July 1st. The first “true” weekend of the summer for most Canadians. Where I’m from, though, July 1st is one of two things: moving day or simply a day off. We’ve had our national celebration a week prior, on June 24th.
Since I moved out West, it always feels weird to me to think of Canada Day as a celebration. Despite the fact that I don’t get my St-Jean-Baptiste anymore, for me, it’s simply a day off. And this year, I feel, there are even fewer reasons to celebrate Canada.
Because there’s a Canada that was I taught, and raised in, that believed in strong social services, privacy and income security. A Canada where the poor, albeit poor, could still have a roof on their heads and some food on the table. A Canada where people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own were not forced to get new jobs beneath their skill level and salary expectations. A Canada where old age started at 65, and that’s old enough, thank you very much. A Canada where people’s computer aren’t spied on without a warrant–like their phones wouldn’t be bugged without one either.
There’s a Canada that I was taught, and raised in, that believed in protecting its environment. A Canada where pristine natural environments like northern BC and the Arctic were kept away from industries that would destroy them for profit. A Canada where the livelyhood of thousands of fishermen and women would be safe from oil spills. A Canada where the traditional way of life of its First Nations would be possible. A Canada where our major national treasure, our natural beauty, would remain as beautiful as it has ever been.
There’s a Canada that I was taught, and raised in, that believed in democracy. A Canada where a prime minister couldn’t just do whatever he wanted but had to face debate, checks and balances. A Canada where omnibus bills didn’t mean making sweeping changes to an entire country’s legislation heirloom with a single sleight of hand. A Canada where an abundance of public employees delivered essential services the same way, no matter the party in power. A Canada where the government is the people’s, not the prime minister’s.
So, you’ll excuse me if I don’t celebrate Canada this weekend. I will celebrate the courageous MPs who stood for 24 hours voting in the omnibus bill amendments. I will celebrate the many not-for-profits and NGOs, like women’s rights advocacy groups and environmental groups and anti-poverty groups, who have seen their funding unfairly slashed for so-called “partisan activities”. I will celebrate each and every individual who has tried to do something in the last year to inform, convince and move the Canadian people against Harper.
I will mourn the Canada that was, the Canada that I hope we haven’t lost forever. I will mourn a fair, open, transparent, conscientious Canada. I will mourn concern for the less fortunate, strong environmental regulation and, despite its faults, a democratic system that hadn’t betrayed us yet. I will mourn its bilingualism, its multiculturalism, its diversity, its openness to the world, its generosity, its peacekeeping mission.
Le Canada est mort. Vive le Canada!