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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Opting out is not an option

“Each year, people around the globe set aside Nov. 11 as a day to remember the men and women who served their country, fought for us and died so we could live in freedom.”

— Premier Greg Selinger’s Remembrance Day message

Except in Manitoba, where students can now opt out of once mandatory Remembrance Day services on Nov. 11.

Sun Media quoted Premier Greg Selinger as saying it’s all about “religious freedom.”

To us, that’s just pure, unadulterated rubbish.

And what a slap in the face to all the men and women who so bravely fought — with legions being injured or killed — for our country so we could enjoy such things as that precious religious freedom.

What would prompt the premier — a former social work professor with a doctorate in the subject from the London School of Economics — to even suggest students needn’t observe Remembrance Day services is beyond us.

We are at a loss for words.

But here’s just some of what national radio show host Charles Adler had to say on the topic this week on his Corus Radio Network program out of Winnipeg:

“(Selinger) has disgraced himself as a Manitoban — has disgraced his country — with his ‘options’ comments from last week about how young people should have this option not to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“For religious reasons? Whose religion is it to not give thanks? To not give respect? To not give acknowledgment to the best of our people who make sacrifices for our country and for freedom?

“I want to be clear, unambiguous ... your comments are wrongheaded. Dead wrong.

“We only have freedom of religion in this country because millions of decent and honourable Canadians opted in to serve their country.

“Does freedom of speech mean anything to you, premier? Do you know that freedom of speech is not free, it was purchased with the blood of thousands of Canadians. I’m sorry that you’re not as grateful as some others.”

Adler’s words have inspired us.

So we ask Premier Selinger — where are your convictions, sir? You lay a wreath at a cenotaph on Nov. 11, but you don’t think the history behind it should be something taught to all Manitobans?

Some things need to be mandatory, even in this pick-and-choose politically correct society.

Honouring the war dead and injured is not war mongering. It’s the right and good and honourable thing to do.

Damn it if it offends a handful of people. They are enjoying everything Canada has to offer because of the brave heroes who laid down their lives for us.

Progressive Conservative Opposition Leader Brian Pallister is correct when he said this week that there is a price to pay for citizenship and students should be required to attend ceremonies to mark Remembrance Day.

If parents or caregivers truly feel that Remembrance Day ceremonies are war mongering, or too Christian — or are offended by the poppy, which is associated with opium — then they can just pull their kids right out of school that day and have a peace circle with some incense in their living rooms.

But in no way, shape or form should an elected leader — the premier of our province — ever condone having children simply opt out of ceremonies at school. It sets a horrible example for the other kids.

And it’s an insult to anyone who has lived through the horrors of war or who has had a family member maimed or killed in combat.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 15, 2012

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“Each year, people around the globe set aside Nov. 11 as a day to remember the men and women who served their country, fought for us and died so we could live in freedom.”

— Premier Greg Selinger’s Remembrance Day message

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“Each year, people around the globe set aside Nov. 11 as a day to remember the men and women who served their country, fought for us and died so we could live in freedom.”

— Premier Greg Selinger’s Remembrance Day message

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