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Are there 98 Canadian VCs?
Face to Face

Are there 98 Canadian VCs?

It is hard to say exactly how many “Canadians” have been awarded the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest award for valour in the face of the enemy. As an editor with Legion Magazine, we usually just say safely, “nearly 100.” For one thing, the Canadian Citizenship Act didn’t come into effect until Jan. 1, 1947, nearly two years after the last action was performed for which a Canadian was awarded a VC. So by that measure, the majority of “our” VCs were, technically, not Canadian at all. Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949, yet we still take pride in the VCs earned by John Bernard Croak and Thomas (Tommy) Ricketts. Many of the recipients were immigrants, mainly from Great Britain. Some of them returned to Britain to serve in units they had been associated with before co...
Face to Face | Was All Quiet on  the Western Front (1930) the most important war film ever made?
Face to Face

Face to Face | Was All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) the most important war film ever made?

All Quiet on the Western Front is an Academy Award-winning 1930 film based on the classic anti-war novel by a German veteran of the First World War, Erich Maria Remarque. Coming 12 years after the First World War ended and with Nazism on the rise in Germany, the film may have had a more profound impact than any war movie ever. Ignoring the evolution of technology and the old-style theatrics, by that measure alone—its impact—it can be viably argued that All Quiet is the greatest war film ever made. Directed by Lewis Milestone and starring Lew Ayres and Louis Wolheim, it follows a class of German students inspired by their teacher to sign up and go off to war. It is a relentless, unforgiving chronicle of misery and death—for its time a detailed and groundbreaking slice of life at th...
Should the James Cross kidnappers have been granted safe passage to Cuba?
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Should the James Cross kidnappers have been granted safe passage to Cuba?

In the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 1970, dozens of police officers and heavily armed soldiers surrounded a modest dwelling in Montreal North where, for nearly two months, British diplomat James Cross had been held hostage by a gang of would-be revolutionaries who styled themselves the Liberation Cell of the Front de libération du Québec. Their situation was hopeless, but the kidnappers remained defiant. They warned the authorities via a handwritten communiqué that if the police attempted to storm the hideout with guns or tear gas, Cross would be the first to die. And they were in possession of two sawed-off .30-calibre carbines, two handguns and eight pounds of dynamite. Rather than risk Cross’s life, the authorities wisely agreed to grant the kidnappers safe passage to Cuba in exch...
Face to Face: Should Canada’s military be restructured to increase its response to health crises  and natural disasters?
COVID-19, Face to Face

Face to Face: Should Canada’s military be restructured to increase its response to health crises and natural disasters?

ERNIE REGEHR is senior fellow with The Simons Foundation of Vancouver and co-founder of Project Ploughshares. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Armed Forces declared it was ready to mobilize up to 24,000 troops to “assist with humanitarian support, wellness checks, natural disaster responses and other tasks as required.” By mid-April, Canadian Rangers were assisting pandemic response efforts in Northern Quebec communities and CAF medical teams were deploying to alleviate staffing shortages in long-term care centres. Manitoba floods, Toronto snowstorms, eastern ice storms, western forest fires, Northern Ontario drinking water emergencies—all these have involved military mobilizations in support of civilian authorities. The 1991 renewal of the Canada-U.S. Norad agreement a...
Face to Face: Was home-defence conscription necessary in 1940?
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Face to Face: Was home-defence conscription necessary in 1940?

The government of William Lyon Mackenzie King was entirely justified in legislating the National Resources Mobilization Act (NRMA) on June 21, 1940, as a way to enhance Canada’s war readiness and assist Britain in its time of greatest peril. Imposing limited conscription for the purpose of defending the nation was a sensible, measured reaction to the catastrophe unfolding in Europe, and the responsible thing to do. Following Britain and France’s lead, Canada declared war on Germany in September 1939. As the period of the “Phoney War” ensued, there seemed no immediate crisis and recruiting remained voluntary given King’s promise not to enact conscription. On May 10, the Germans invaded the Low Countries and France, quickly routing their armies as well as the British Expeditionary For...
Face to Face
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Face to Face

With hindsight, qualified by the modern moral temperament, the deliberate destruction by Canadian troops of much of Friesoythe on April 13-14, 1945, is indefensible. Ostensibly, Major-General Christopher Vokes’ exact orders were: “Burn the fucking town!” The order arose from his understanding that Argyll and Sutherland Highlander commander Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Wigle had been killed by a villager wearing civilian clothing. In fact, Wigle died after being struck in the chest by a burst from a Schmeisser machine gun during a pitched battle with German soldiers attempting to overrun the Argylls’ battle headquarters on Friesoythe’s outskirts. Most Argylls, however, unquestioningly accepted the civilian sniper rumour that immediately swirled through their ranks, then up the command...