Soldiers, families, politicians mark Day of Honour on Parliament Hill

Soldiers, their families and dignitaries gathered in Ottawa Friday for Canada’s first National Day of Honour, commemorating the mission in Afghanistan and those injured or killed in service.


The Day of Honour began with a breakfast reception, and was followed by a memorial held in the Senate. There was also a parade and a ceremony on Parliament Hill. Athlete Rick Hansen was one of the co-emcees.

In the morning, Governor-General David Johnston, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several cabinet ministers joined families of the fallen soldiers in the Senate for the memorial. (See more pictures of the Day of Honour ceremonies)

From right, Governor-General David Johnston, his wife, Sharon, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper attend a National Day of Honour ceremony in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Mr. Harper announced the Day of Honour in March to recognize the 12-year mission in Afghanistan. During the Senate memorial, 12 carnations were placed in a white wreath to honour the mission and those who served in it. “Through this National Day, Canadians will have the opportunity to reflect on the courage and sacrifices made by our soldiers,” Mr. Harper said in a statement announcing the Day of Honour.

After the parades arrived on the Hill and the Governor-General inspected the guard, the military did a 21-gun salute.

During the ceremony, the final Canadian flag to fly in Kandahar (at NATO headquarters) was brought to Ottawa. There was some controversy about who would receive the flag on Parliament Hill. In the end, the Prime Minister was given it, and then he passed it on to the Governor-General, who is Canada’s commander-in-chief.

The Governor-General paid tribute to those who died in the war in Afghanistan.

Mr. Harper told the crowd, “Let me tell all of you how proud I am to stand before you.” He said the conflict was the longest military engagement in Canadian history.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said the day marked the “conclusion of another chapter in the history of the Canadian Armed Forces.” Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson said the mission was “woven into the very fabric of the Canadian Armed Forces.”


The Canadian mission in Afghanistan claimed the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two contractors (Read the full list). Roughly 2,000 soldiers were injured.

Many veterans, or families of those lost, were in attendance on Parliament Hill.

Military equipment

The event on Parliament Hill also includes a series of military displays, including a Chinook transport helicopter that was landed in the heart of the capital Thursday evening, as well as a tank that had been deployed in Afghanistan and several other armoured vehicles.

During the ceremony, some military planes flew by.


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Abacus conducted the survey by talking to 2,002 Canadians over the age of 18 through a mix of online panels and live telephone interviews. The data were demographically weighted in line with the general population, and the margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The poll was conducted in January and February of this year.

Ask The Globe: Do we, as PM Harper has stated, have the cleanest electricity grid in Canada?

For the duration of the election, The Globe is answering your questions – from fact-checking leaders’ statements to digging deep into policies and promises. Have a question? Tweet it with #AskTheGlobe

Globe reader Greg Bennett asks: Do we, as PM Harper has stated, have the cleanest electricity grid in Canada?

Energy reporter Shawn McCarthy says yes – it’s true. But the answer is a little more complicated:

Conservatives’ attacks on Mulcair not too effective, survey suggests

As explained in today’s story, new survey data from Innovative Research Group suggests the Liberals are having some success with advertising rebutting Conservative attacks against Justin Trudeau. But of course, they wouldn’t need to do so if those attacks hadn’t been effective in branding the Liberal Leader as a “not ready” lightweight to begin with.

To the much more limited extent that the Tories are going after NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, it appears they’re struggling to find an angle that’s similarly effective.

In the same early-August  survey in which it found the Liberals’ new ad has a significant impact on those who see it, the polling company also tested a pair of anti-Mulcair Conservative ads. Both use the same “job interview” format as the ones against Mr. Trudeau, but the attempts to cast Mr. Mulcair as an opportunistic career politician seemed to have more limited effect.

In fact, when Innovative Research screened the first of those spots (above) – asking respondents a series of questions both before and after they saw it – it found no statistically significant impact on either voting intentions or impressions of Mr. Mulcair relative to the other party leaders.

The second ad, which is slightly more focused on alleging Mr. Mulcair has wasted taxpayers’ money and less so on using his longevity in politics and his past as a (Quebec) Liberal to suggest he’s an opportunist, proved somewhat more effective. Among respondents who hadn’t seen it before, support for the NDP went down by five percentage points after they saw it, although it’s not clear whether that went to the Tories or the Liberals. And the share of respondents who chose Mr. Mulcair as the leader who most “cares about people like me” went down by seven points.

While significant, neither of those hits is huge when an ad is viewed in isolation. And on other perceptions of leaders’ qualities, such as competence and who cares most about the middle class, there was again no clear impact.

Considering how little these two ads have been airing so far, it’s possible the Tories aren’t using their best stuff against the NDP yet. But it’s worth remembering that, even with Mr. Trudeau, they spent a while running spots that didn’t really work before they hit their target. If they decide before this campaign is over to make Mr. Mulcair their main target, they’ll have a much smaller window to get it right.

(Full methodology for Innovative Research’s surveys are available from its website.)