Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Opinion

Why I’m planning to celebrate Canada Day

By Thomas Walkom      

I will celebrate it although our history of nation-building includes the usual mixture of bad-faith dealing, intolerance, and greed. I will celebrate it even if some of my compatriots among the country's indigenous peoples do not.

The city expects the area near Parliament Hill to be packed with nearly 500,000 people on Saturday, July 1 to celebrate Canada Day. Photograph courtesy of Geo Philips
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

I will celebrate Canada Day on Saturday.

I will celebrate it although our history of nation-building includes the usual mixture of bad-faith dealing, intolerance, and greed.

I will celebrate it even if some of my compatriots among the country’s indigenous peoples do not.

On Wednesday, a group of Indigenous protestors began what they called a reoccupation of Parliament Hill in order to make the point that Canada has not worked for them.

I understand and respect their view. But I will celebrate anyway.

I will celebrate the delightfully prosaic nature of a federation that in large part was created for the practical business purpose of financing railways.

I will celebrate the paucity of jingoes in a country that, at times, seems embarrassed about showing its patriotism.

I will celebrate Canada because this is my place.

I have no other. I choose no other.

That this year marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation is of secondary importance. The melding of four British colonies into one self-governing Dominion in 1867 was a key event in the development of the country we now call Canada. But there were others.

We could date our beginning from the time, centuries ago, when the first humans crossed the Bering Strait into North America.

Or we could date it from 1775, when French Quebecers refused to rise up against the British and join an American Revolution that was reconfiguring the continent.

Or perhaps from 1812, when indigenous warriors under Tecumseh joined forces with British-led troops to attack American invaders.

Or perhaps from the peace treaty that ended that War of 1812, yet granted nothing to indigenous peoples for these efforts — one of many betrayals.

We have long been a work in progress. We didn’t win the right to conduct an independent foreign policy until 1931. Our highest court of appeal rested in Britain until 1949. Our Constitution was not patriated until 1982.

At times, we have resisted becoming a country. New Brunswick was dragged kicking and screaming into Confederation in 1867. So was Newfoundland in 1949. Quebec has come close to leaving twice.

The Métis of what is now Manitoba were one of the few peoples who petitioned (successfully) to join Canada. They were rewarded by being fleeced of their land.

By modern standards, Canada has not always acted in an enlightened fashion. It locked up Ukrainian-Canadians without trial during the First World War and did the same to alleged foreign Reds in the years following.

During the Second World War, it incarcerated Japanese-Canadians purely on the basis of race.

Far too often its treatment of indigenous peoples has been shameful. But not always. In recent decades, the courts in particular have been mindful of indigenous rights.

This is all part of our history. We have to recognize it and deal with it.

None of this means we have to give up on the country.

So I will celebrate Canada on Saturday. Being Canadian, I will probably do so quietly. I will remember the things we have done wrong in the past but also the things we have done right.

I will support the right of indigenous people to protest on Parliament Hill — on land, incidentally, that is claimed by competing First Nations. I will wish them well and hope they reciprocate.

I am not surprised that some of these protestors say they do not feel Canadian. I understand why.

Maybe those feelings will change over time as indigenous and non-indigenous peoples become reconciled to one another.

But even if they don’t, I will continue to celebrate this odd and diffident country. It is my home. It is my homeland.

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

From representing a town of 5,000 to a riding the size of Poland: NDP MP Bachrach settles into job

News|By Beatrice Paez
Much of Taylor Bachrach's career has been steeped in politics, but he hasn’t always been a card-carrying NDP member.

Parties agree to NDP’s push for representation on steering committees

News|By Palak Mangat
Chief Government Whip Mark Holland says the party was hoping to strike the Procedure and House Affairs Committee last week, but opposition had not reached a consensus.

Stand by me: a number of chiefs of staff stick with ministers

Feature|By Laura Ryckewaert
Jason Easton is staying on as chief of staff to now-International Trade and Small Business Minister Mary Ng, plus Lesley Sherban will be her director of operations.

Feds risk coveting support of autocratic nations in UN Security Council bid, says Conservative MP

News|By Neil Moss
Peter Kent says Canada's campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council is a 'possible, even, likely motivation' for a vote supporting a pro-Palestine, anti-Israel resolution last month in the UN General Assembly.

Should he stay or should he go? Defeated Tory candidates divided on Scheer’s future

‘He made too many mistakes, too often and if he can’t win in Quebec, he will never be prime minister. It’s that simple,’ says a defeated Quebec candidate.

Veterans’ benefits lead in supplementary spending ask of nearly $5-billion

The estimates include $44-million for Phoenix damages, $131.9-million towards reconciliation on Indigenous rights and fisheries issues, and $9.9-million for the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization.

Feds’ silence on funding, transition plan for child welfare law causing ‘intense nervousness and frustration’

Bill C-92 takes effect Jan. 1, bringing in new, stricter, and culturally sensitive standards to Indigenous child welfare decisions. 

‘The tail doesn’t wag the dog’: PSAC wants a deal of its own amid ongoing negotiations

News|By Mike Lapointe
The government is ‘disappointed’ PSAC rejected an offer in line with recent agreements signed by 34 other bargaining units, according to a Treasury Board spokesperson.

Premiers’ nuclear announcement a potential boon, but issues remain: experts

Energy experts say SMRs could be an environmentally friendly baseload option compared to intermittent sources like wind and solar.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.