Nationalism ushered in the conflicts of the First World War.
Now, a century after the end of a horrific war that slaughtered millions, the same forces are reappearing around the world and are set to make for a prominent backdrop as ceremonies take place across Canada and all over the globe to mark the end of the First World War.
Ceremonies to commemorate the armistice are scheduled in cities and towns across the country today.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked the sombre occasion in France as part of an international gathering of leaders whose countries suffered and sacrificed in a war triggered by nationalist conflicts more than a century ago.
In the years since, the world has changed remarkably.
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Even between the start and end of the war, rapid technological and social change meant the places soldiers left behind and the ones to which they returned were not the same.
But 100 years after the war ended, the same nationalist forces that propelled Europeans and, by extension, allies like Canada and the U.S. into the First World War can be seen spreading anew across a world grappling with the erosion of borders, economic uncertainty, social inequality and festering political divisions.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned of those forces in a speech to dozens of world leaders, including Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“I know there are old demons, which are coming back to the surface. They are ready to wreak chaos and death,” he said.
“History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again.”
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He also took direct aim at nationalism in what many have interpreted as a pointed criticism of Trump himself, who was in the Paris crowd.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” said Macron.
“Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ‘our interests first, who cares about the others,’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”
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The criticism also came on the heels of a barrage aimed at Trump on Saturday after he cancelled a visit to a cemetery near Paris where American soldiers who died in the war are laid to rest, citing “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather.”
Mud and trench warfare were two of the hallmarks of the First World War.
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The 1917 Battle of Passchendaele, for example, is described by the Canadian War Museum as a battlefield transformed by “unceasing rain and shellfire” into a “vast bog of bodies, water-filled shell craters and mud in which the attack ground to a halt.”
Advancing Canadian and Allied troops found themselves exposed as they tried to take the battlefield from the Germans, with mud bogging down their attack.
It was among the deadliest battles of the war, with 15,654 Canadians killed and 275,000 British casualties.
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“The sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform — and by their families and loved ones here in Canada — were immense,” said Gov. Gen. Julie Payette in a statement commemorating the end of the First World War.
“Canadians fought bravely through the mud and the horror of war. Together, they formed some of the most effective units on the Western Front. And as such, they earned the respect and gratitude of all.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will represent the Government of Canada in Trudeau’s absence.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will also be taking part in Remembrance Day events.
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Scheer will be attending a ceremony at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton.
Singh will be at the South Burnaby Legion’s Annual Remembrance Day Parade and Ceremony.
Burnaby South is the federal riding in which Singh will run to try for office and gain a seat in the House of Commons.