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A Tasteless, Jingoistic, Paramilitary Embarrassment at the RCMP Musical Ride

June 28th, 2015

Black-uniformed officers in body armour assume combat postures, the sharp “bang” of stun grenades, smoke bombs releasing white clouds, a huge, black armoured-personnel vehicle circling the scene .… ending with the take-down in the sand of a bad-guy in jeans and no shirt, who is then thrown into the truck and whisked away. All while an enthusiastic voice-over extolls the important goal of keeping Canadians safe.

Welcome to the 2015 version of the RCMP Musical Ride, showing nightly at “N Division” in Ottawa and featuring the legendary equestrian skills of the Mounties as “ambassadors of goodwill … promoting the RCMP’s image throughout Canada and the world.

Is there no place now where Canadians can be spared the Harper government’s jingoistic militaristic bleating with its conjured-up images of dangers lurking around every corner, nurturing the fear that “others” are out to rob us of our freedoms?

Oh, there were beautiful horses and red uniforms and long lances and exciting charges and smart jumping police dogs too, fear not.

After all, that’s what thousands of families – virtually all with children below 8 years old – visiting the capital from all over Canada had come to see. So they thought.

But within minutes of the show’s opening – and well before the amazing horses performed their fantastic routines – the audience is treated to a bombastic, paramilitary show-and-tell that had many adults around us shaking their heads in bewilderment. And a few little kids crying too.

Along the way, there were some anodyne recruiting messages for the Mounties, and at the end, a mass recitation of the pledge all new Canadians make when they become citizens.

But Commissioner Bob Paulsen, really …..  who takes their children to a horse show on a Saturday evening expecting a scene from an average day’s viewing on CNN  of heavily-armed police working the streets of Ferguson, Missouri?

The RCMP should be embarrassed.

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