As we finish celebrating Canada’s 145th birthday, replete with a veritable love-in of flag-waving self-congratulatory fervour, one cannot escape the uncomfortable notion that it is a slippery slope from patriotism to jingoism.
Let’s re-name “Canada Day” in time for our 146th birthday.
All denials to the contrary, Canada’s official policy of legislated multiculturalism has in reality become a sad manifestation of the intense insecurity that has developed with regard to our historical national identity.
Thus, all measure of things have been named and re-named “Canada,” be it Canada Day or Canada Place or the Canada Line, lest we might forget who we are or where we are or what we are.
The reason why other countries do not engage in the jingoism of referring to their national days as “America Day” or “France Day” or “Germany Day” or “Holland Day” is that they are secure in the knowledge as to who they are and what they are and where they are.
National days celebrate historical achievement. The French people gave birth to their nation on July 14, 1789, and celebrate it as Bastille Day. Americans gave birth to their nation on July 4, 1776, and celebrate it as Independence Day.
Unlike the revolutionary beginnings of France and America, Canada began its devolutionary journey to self-government on July 1, 1867 as the federal Dominion of Canada with the confederation of the three colonies of British North America into the new Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. So let’s mark Canada’s birthday as Confederation Day.
145 years later, confederation – the “coming together” of all of Canada – continues to be a challenge requiring renewed effort and commitment from all of us.