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Remember when the Canadian passport was just a boring government document? Yeah, me neither. Barely a year after processing backlogs and lineups at government offices turned them into a political hot potato, passports are back in the headlines thanks to a long-running redesign process that has culture war conservatives outraged over the changes. In other news, water remains wet.

The updated design, which has been underway for a decade now, is ostensibly about improving the security features of the passport. They will, for example, now have a polycarbonate data page that uses laser engraving instead of ink, and something called a “Kinegram” over your deliberately unflattering photo. They can also be renewed online, which will save people the hassle of having to fill out those printed forms and wait in line at a Service Canada office to submit them. That alone is a massive improvement over the status quo, one most Canadians will surely welcome.

But if you were looking for a reason to get upset about the new passports, you’re in luck. Because using the same images on the back pages for a long period of time apparently makes passports more prone to counterfeiting; the new ones switch out the pictures of Vimy Ridge, Terry Fox and the Stanley Cup in favour of animals and natural scenes like children jumping into a lake.

This shouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact that everything has to be a big deal these days. And so, the Conservative Party of Canada gathered every pearl it could find and got to the clutching. “The current prime minister’s woke and out-of-touch ideology is so egotistical that he cannot imagine there are any Canadian stories bigger than him,” CPC Leader Pierre Poilievre said during question period. “That is why he deletes Terry Fox, the soldiers who died at Vimy, the city of Quebec, and the RCMP from our passport to replace it with a colouring book that includes an image of him swimming at Harrington Lake when he was a boy.”

(It doesn’t, of course.)

Sarah Fischer, his director of communications, decided to take a more literary bent with her critique by quoting Czech writer Milan Kundera. “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory,” she tweeted. “Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long, that nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was.”

The notion that the Trudeau government is trying to do to Canada what the Soviet regime did to Czechoslovakia is suitably hyperbolic for someone in her role. If anything, the government is simply trying to update our national symbols to reflect the reality of modern Canada, one that’s more diverse and forward-looking than many conservatives would like to admit.

If there’s a legitimate bone to pick here, it’s probably the one the Royal Canadian Legion raised around the removal of an image of the Vimy Ridge memorial from the pages of the old passport and its impact on our collective awareness of it. But let’s be real: nobody is learning about Canadian history through the images in their passports, and if they are, then the process of either educating or naturalizing them as citizens has been an abject failure. There are better (and more effective) ways to teach Canadians about this crucial aspect of their history, and all of this energy would be better spent focusing on that.

That’s only if you think the complaints coming from the conservative side of the aisle are actually about honouring Canada’s history, though. If they’re just about triggering another pointless skirmish in the ongoing culture war, then all the energy being invested in the new passport’s design makes more sense. The CPC’s attempt to defend the honour of veterans and Terry Fox is a wee bit inconsistent, given its leader’s personal doughnut delivery to a lawless band of occupiers that defaced a statue of Fox and urinated on the War Memorial. But intellectual consistency has never exactly been a cardinal virtue of conservative politicians.

Are Canada's new passports a modest technological improvement or a Trojan horse intended to undermine Canada's values and erase its history? Welcome to the latest (and dumbest) front in our ever-expanding culture war. @maxfawcett writes

Poilievre has promised that if elected, he’ll bring back the images of Vimy Ridge and Terry Fox, along with “pride in our country” and “a passport that all of us can be proud of.” I’d suggest that national pride doesn’t depend on what’s on the pages of a passport and that the CPC’s overreaction here speaks more to their innate fear of change and progress than any esthetic concerns they might have. But if they do get the opportunity to steer the next passport redesign, they might want to include an image of someone farming partisan outrage. After all, that also seems to be a key part of our culture now.

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If any of the Liberal brass is reading, you just got handed a great election slogan to brand the CPC. "Culture War Chaos"
ain't it the truth, and doesn't it have a nice ring to it.

And I was so fond of "rage farmer".......

I prefer "Convoy Party of Canada" personally. Kind of gets to the heart of those culture wars, as does "rage farming," as does the new name "cons." Words do matter.
And which side is actually rewriting books btw? Coming soon to the conservative party near you.....

The Conservative Party supported Convoy trolls who urinated on the war memorial, danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and turned the Terry Fox statue into a MAGA clown. They can't wrap themselves in the flag now.

If you have two faces, you can do just that.

Interesting that Pierre Poilievre is showing outrage (he is outraged by everything) at historical images being removed from the back pages of the new Canadian passports - Clearly striking a fatal blow to cherished Canadian history and icons. Yet, he has no problem defunding the CBC which has done more than any other institution to educate Canadians about our history and our heroes. Nothing he says has any value.

Hear hear!

(the greatest problem he has with the Ceeb, of course, is that it tells the truth)

Yes. And we should take Viola Desmond off the $10 bill and replace her picture with a squirrel eating a nut. I mean who cares what she did for Canadian black woman right. It doesn't matter because it happened in the past. Squirrels are eating nuts now as we speak!

Apples and oranges though.
World War II was the last "great" war because it was absolutely justifiable and so imbued all participants with the kind of pure heroism that has re-emerged only recently with Ukrainian soldiers, but societies evolve and the West is now very deliberately avoiding triggering a broader conflict.
Because the consensus among the evolved is that war is psychotic, and the ultimate failure of any human society. If the latter description brings conservatives to mind and the former progressives, YOU pick which are apples and which oranges. And don't forget the convoy.
So the more timeless definition of heroism that should and will endure is attached to Terry Fox. And police officers.

My point as usual is that current conservatism is utterly indefensible.

When I read Jen Gerson's rant on the subject ("yes, it's really THAT bad") in the G&M a few days ago, it left me entirely perplexed.

I thought "WTF, this must be the 'Firstest' of First World Problems that I've ever heard of".

Gerson, being presently a freelancer, apparently, was hired by someone. I can't imagine why the G&M published the screed. I hadn't realized the scale of the manufactured outrage.

The mind (again) boggles.

Haven't seen that yet but wouldn't be surprised they printed it; they've endorsed the cons in federal elections until 2015 when they qualified that somewhat by suggesting Harper really should step down as leader. Then in the next two they stopped openly endorsing, period (now WHY on earth would THAT be?) so there's the Achilles heel of being even remotely associated with a conservative base that's given a whole new meaning to the word. But it's like the "social conservative" faction; they mostly know to hide in plain sight and not say things like "lake of fire" out loud.

If right-wingers get their history from passports, statues, and schools, that would explain a lot.
Just like they get their science from YouTube and denialist websites. And their wisdom from bumper stickers. They slept through history and science class. They think in slogans and images, not evidence and scholarly analysis.

How about a dose of Canada's historical and ongoing reality on our passports?
A residential school with crosses.
Toxic leaking tailing ponds with birds sinking in oily sludge.
Tens of thousands of unremediated oil wells littering the landscape in Alberta.
Wildfires and heatwaves ravaging Western Canada.
Non-existent caribou in Banff National Park.
Freedumb-fests in Ottawa.
Logging trucks hauling away the last old growth in B.C for toilet paper.
Seal-hunting and cod-fishing in the Maritimes.
Polar bear trophy hunts in the North.
Coyote and wolf culls on the prairies.
Endless lines of traffic clogging endless freeways to nowhere.

That's the Canada I live in.

GP wrote: "If right-wingers get their history from passports, statues, and schools, that would explain a lot."

Correction: That should be:
"If right-wingers get their history from passports, statues, and school names, that would explain a lot."

Writing comments before my first cup of coffee in the morning is hazardous. And I don't drink coffee. Maybe I should start.

What a bunch of snowflakes.

Reminds me of an uncle's favourite little story -
Hapless traveller stops his car when he hears rattling noises. Upon getting out to check, he notices one wheel is being held on by only one of five lug nuts.
He stands looking at it, perplexed as he knows he has no extra lug nuts even though he does have a wrench and jack.
A man speaks to him through an ornamental iron gate immediately beside the road, "What's the trouble?"
Traveller answers, "I am kinda hooped. This wheel has only one lug nut out of five. I have a wrench and jack, but no extra lug nuts."
Man replies, "You could take one lug nut from each of the other three wheels, making sure all the other ones are tight, move them to that wheel and tighten them on. Not a perfect fix, but if you drive slowly and carefully, you might get to somewhere you can get the rest of the lug nuts."
Traveller marvels, "Wow! That's brilliant! of course that will work. Thank you!"
Traveller goes on, "By the way, what's the building behind that fine looking ornamental gate?"
Man answers, "Regional Mental Hospital. I am a patient here."
Traveller is puzzled, "But that was a brilliant solution. How could you possibly be a patient here?"
Man concludes, "Look, I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid."

When I am the traveller with car trouble and look up to see who is talking, if I see one of these rage farmers, I know I am on my own.

Of course you wouldn't be on your own. They would explain that it was Trudeau's fault the lug nuts were missing, because he'd failed to repeal Harper era deregulations that allowed lug nuts to be installed shoddily, and to solve your problem all you needed to do was find and beat up some immigrants or trans people or First Nations or woke people, without whom this country would be a paradise where lug nuts were always installed perfectly.