The National Battlefields Commission has cancelled the 250th re-enactment of the Battle of the Plain of Abraham scheduled for this coming August.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

First, I didn’t know some of the few taxpayer dollars I have left go to something called the National Battlefields Commission, and have, apparently, since 1908.

Second, call me crazy, but is it a good idea to rub salt in what is still a raw wound in the body politic of what was New France? It would be like the good people of Manitoba and Saskatchewan re-enacting the hanging of Louis Riel. Feelings are still a little raw in this young nation of ours — or, if you prefer — in these young nations of ours. We’re not ready to make nice, I guess.

It’s hard to tell who’s the real villain here: Les Idiots at the commission who thought it would be swell to have a masked ball and other frivolity to commemorate the defeat of the French and the deaths of opposing generals Wolfe and Montcalm.

Then there’s the Réseau de Résistance du Québec, a group of fierce separatists who promised to kick some ass if the re-enactment took place.

Fearing a more authentic replay of the battle than it bargained for, the commission whipped out the white flag it keeps on hand for such occasions and “je me souviens” quickly became “fuhgeddaboudit.”

Someone pointed out there was a similar enactment 10 years ago under the Parti Quebecois and nobody complained. I guess it’s OK to re-stage your own defeat, but it hurts when les maudits Tories try it.

Moi, I think they should indeed re-enact the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, but I think they should hold it at night, because much of what happens in Canada involving the Two Solitudes reminds me of these lines from the great Matthew Arnold poem Dover Beach, one of the saddest in any official language:
“Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

One day, perhaps in another 250 years, we’ll be able to put it all behind us, and build a Canada that is no longer a cult with a fetish for the past.

Now that would be worth celebrating.