Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Careful What You Wish For

Oct 9, 2019

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer believes that the purpose of history is to "celebrate" the past. To this end he has announced that if elected his government will remove admission fees from Canada's national museums.

I'm all in favour of free museums, but Mr. Scheer is dead wrong. His views would lead to the destruction, not the strengthening, of our museums. He wants to turn them into cheerleaders for what he calls "the giants of our history," otherwise known as our prime ministers and governors general. In other words, politicians like himself.

History is not about celebration. It cannot be said too often or too loudly. Politicians wish it were so because they are in the business of manipulating the past to suit their own purposes. But history is an argument, not a story. It is a kaleidoscope of many different points of view and every time you turn the glass you get another perspective.

The job of history museums is to present the complexity, not "celebrate the giants."

One more reason -- if you really needed one -- not to vote for Mr. Scheer.