Let’s say it’s ten or twenty years into the future. After flirting with socialism, Islanders elect a right-leaning government that, as its term plays out, comes to espouse a form of radical Presbyterianism. The transition is gradual enough that by the time anyone notices, government control over Islanders’ daily lives has increased dramatically, and the “Island way of life” is heavily policed, managed and restricted. Whatever protest gets raised is swept away almost instantly by special squads of government-sponsored goons. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are both relics of an earlier time. There is rumour that there have been kidnappings and government-sponsored murders west of O’Leary.
Now let’s say that an outside force — maybe it’s America, maybe it’s Ontario, maybe it’s Ireland — seeing this tyrannical chaos, decides that Islanders must be liberated from their Presbyterian oppressors, and, after massing resources in New Brunswick for several months, launches a dramatic military assault. Charlottetown is bombed nightly. Summerside, originally to be bypassed, is under siege. Hundreds of Islanders, some in the army, others simply bystanders, are killed.
Let’s say this is our future.
Setting aside the implausibility of the conceit, consider this question: if you were in the middle of this situation, if buildings around your house were being bombed every night, if your kids could no longer go outside, if you feared for your life constantly, if your old friend from high school was blown up because he happened to work at the phone company, if your neighbour’s kids were incinerated before your eyes in the Sobey’s parking lot. If this was your reality.
How would you regard your liberators?
I don’t know the answer to that question.