Advocate Remembrance speaker: Democracy is not guaranteed

Richard Cole (right) salutes during the playing of the Last Post during Advocate Harbour’s Remembrance service on Sunday, Nov. 6, while veterans Bill McCarty (left) and Dave Coleman show their respects in the background. Darrell Cole photo

Democracy is a right that should never be taken for granted, says the former MLA for Cumberland South and provincial PC Party leader.

 The guest speaker at Advocate Harbour’s Remembrance observations on Sunday, Nov. 6, Jamie Baillie talked about a spring business trip to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Something that happened in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We all see what’s going on the United States, England and sometimes in Ottawa and it’s not good. Our democracy is a fragile thing and we’re seeing it now. There’s an old saying that says our freedoms are only one generation away from being lost,” Baillie said. “Every generation has to learn the lessons all over again to keep this country free and I’m worried that it’s true. In a way that makes all of us soldiers in defence of our country, our rule of law, democracy and all the things our country stands for.

“This is not a day only about the past; it’s about the present.”

While in Brussels meeting with NATO leadership, Baillie said he couldn’t help but think of Advocate Harbour war hero Les Kirkpatrick, who went ashore on Juno Beach in early stages of the D-Day assault on June 6, 1944.

“All his comrades on the left and on the right were dying but Les managed to scramble off the beach, into town and up a steeple of a church, where he radioed enemy positions to the artillery. He was there for seven days under constant sniper fire,” Baillie said. “Les survived, he came home. He did that to defend us, our country and the rule of law and democracy.”

Baillie said it was the dedication and sacrifice of countless Allied veterans who helped create today’s society and helped build NATO into the force it is today, protecting its members from outside aggression – through the Cold War and the new Cold War the world is in today.

“The people there are smart people who are literally carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, wondering how far they can push Putin before he does something crazy,” Baillie said. “We can all debate that, but they have to make that decision. And they are standing on the shoulders of people like Les Kirkpatrick.”

While Remembrance Day is a time to remember past sacrifices of Canadian soldiers in two world wars, Korea and Afghanistan, as well as many peacekeeping missions, Baillie said it’s not about the past.“It goes on as well as know in the Ukraine today,” Baillie said.

He said Canada’s veterans went to war to protect and preserve the democratic institutions many Canadians take for granted. He said it’s important for Canadians to be like soldiers on election day and exercise their right to vote at the ballot box.

“I’m sad to tell you that politics is a rough business,” Baillie said. “Good people get hurt and their families get hurt. Now that we have Twitter and Facebook and all these ways of insulting and criticizing it’s only getting worse. I’m worried it’s going to keep people from coming forward.”

Baillie said, politicians In Cumberland County and Nova Scotia are good people trying to make their communities better. While it’s important to hold politicians accountable for what they do, he said it must be done in a respectable way. Otherwise, it will get harder to attract good people to run for public office.

“Our democracy is not guaranteed and they way we talk to people we disagree with is something we have to think through,” Baillie said.Cumberland County municipal councillor Carrie Goodwin, whose district includes Advocate Harbour, said this year’s Remembrance Day observations are taking on added meaning in light of the continued conflict in the Ukraine.“We have all seen scores of people flowing out of that country because of the war to their new home country. It’s impressive to see how much love they are surrounded with in their new communities,” Goodwin said.

A number of wreaths were laid during the service including by: Don Gamblin Jr. for the Royal Canadian Navy, Marsha MacDougall on behalf of all veterans, Richard Cole for the Canadian Army, David Coleman for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Layton Yorke for Korean War veterans, Arden Fletcher for the United Nations, Ken Morris for the Merchant Navy, Ronnie MacLean for Branch 45 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Parrsboro, Doug Legere for Branch 4 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Joggins, Maria Cleveland for Advocate School, Mike MacDougall for the Advocate Fire Department, Carrie Goodwin for the Municipality of Cumberland, Cumberland South MLA and Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton for the Province of Nova Scotia and Jamie Baillie for the Government of Canada.