Saturday, July 01, 2017

Canada Day: Is It True Canadians Don't Know How To Party?

I must admit I'm in a mood to party, I've got so many reasons to celebrate.

The regatta season has begun. I've just graduated from more than two months of rehab to fully recover from my motorcycle accident. So I can finally join them out there this weekend.

I'm off to Europe next week, and I'm taking you with me.

And of course the best reason of all to party is that today is Canada's 150th birthday.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to see this recent story in the New York Times.

Declaring despite all the evidence to the contrary, that Canada doesn't know how to party. 

July 1 is Canada’s 150th anniversary, but nobody seems particularly eager to join the party. The muted attempts at celebration have so far produced either awkwardness or embarrassment. A giant rubber duck, six stories tall, is supposed to arrive in Toronto Harbor on Canada Day, but its imminent appearance has been greeted by outrage over costs and suspicions of plagiarism.

The principal excitement of our sesquicentennial so far has been the fury of national self-critique it has inspired.

Could that be true? Could a giant rubber duck be so controversial?

Even though we have so many reasons to celebrate.

Our prime minister is glamorous and internationally recognized as a celebrity of progressive politics. We are among the last societies in the West not totally consumed by loathing of others. Canada leads the Group of 7 countries in economic growth. Our cultural power is real: Drake recently had 24 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time — for one shining moment he was nearly a quarter of popular music. Frankly, it’s not going to get much better than this for little old Canada.

Does our long colonial past condemn us to self loathing?

Colonized self-loathing seems to be a national trait we will never fully shake off. Canadian self-flagellation results always in the same warm, comfortingly smug sense of virtue. Self-righteousness is to Canada what violence is to America. It transcends the political spectrum. Whether it is Conservative insistence on frugality and small-town values or the furious outrage of identity politics on the left, everyone has the same point to make: We’re not as good as we think we are, and the government should do something about it.

Does that explain why so many Canadians have the apparently irresistible urge to bring down any Canadian who rises above the others, from Justin Bieber to Justin Trudeau?

And on a slightly brighter note, could this also be true?

Canada’s reluctance to celebrate itself is actually something worth celebrating. It has become abundantly clear in 2017 that patriotism is for losers. Patriotism is for people and for countries that need to justify their existence through symbols rather than achievements. Canada is doing well enough that it doesn’t require spackled vanity. It doesn’t need six-story-high rubber ducks.

You know what? Maybe all of the above is true. 

Maybe we have a long way to go before we can truly say that we are the best country in the world. And the way we have treated our aboriginal people is still an open wound.

But I have hope that is finally changing, that we are on the right road to reconciliation however long and painful it may be.

So I'm still going to party as if there is no tomorrow, because our young country deserves it, it's so beautiful.

And I love it so much.

Our humble Canadian values ARE something to be proud about, and well worth saving from those who would destroy them. 

Canadians will not be singing a gender-neutral national anthem on Canada Day after a bill before Parliament to officially change the lyrics has stalled.

Although the bill sailed through the House with government approval, Conservative senators opposed to the changes have scored a victory in the Red Chamber. A yearlong campaign successfully punted a vote on the bill until the fall, at the earliest, and even then the legislation faces an uncertain future.

The ghastly bigoted and sexist followers of this anti-Canadian monster...

Who would have turned today's celebration into an excuse to worship the military and himself.

The fact that he didn't get to preside over today's activities is for me reason alone to kick up my heels. 

And I'm not a bit ashamed to say to all those party poopers, that my Canada Day this year includes this big rubber duck...

You know, they say that the organizers were looking for a large inflatable loon, but couldn't find one or couldn't afford it.

And isn't that tragically Canadian?

But aren't we lucky to live in this weird but wonderful and peaceful country?

Happy Canada Day everybody!!!


  1. Happy Canada Day I was at the last big bash Expo 67. I wish we had done something similar but it no big thing. Thank God we dont have to watch Dear Leader and a multimillion dollar flyover.

    1. Yup was there too...and new flag raising as well. It was a very Big deal and it was awesome. and Centennial Train... And, I don't miss the Fear Leader either. Any sightings lately?

    2. hi Steve...yes, the fact that Harper won't be presiding over the activities, after trying to use the 150 event to get himself re-elected, will make the celebrations even better...

    3. hi Jack...Expo 67 and the raising of the new flag were indeed happy events, and marked the birth of a new Canada. as for Great Ugly Leader he emerged from the swamp where he now lives, to issue a statement on Canada's 150th birthday. But sadly for him he looked like somebody trying to blow out the candles after they were already out, and having to be restrained from spitting all over the cake...

  2. This guy sounds like someone who has never been north of Bloor or east the Don Valley and has less knowledge knowledge of Canada than Michael Ignatieff had when he returned for his coronation.

    I will say my partying has had a bit of a damper put on it since it is pouring down rain every 15 minutes here but I'll try.

    1. Further report. Weather has turned beautiful and mobs out. Happy Canada Day.

    2. hi jrkrideau...yes, Marche has a bit of a reputation for making sweeping statements, designed to prove rather than educate. I agree with some of the things he said, but the idea that we don't know how to party or celebrate our achievements struck me as ridiculous...

  3. Anonymous10:10 AM

    We call em dragonboats out here.

    1. hi have dragon boats the size of that duck? Can I borrow one please? We have a big dragon boat race every year where I live, and with one like that I could mow down or gobble up the competition...

  4. perhaps one must become Canadian to recognize and appreciate things (and parties) Canadian - we have peace, class, good sense and taste (more or less); we have the patience and courage to face our difficult past, so that the origins taken away from the first founding nations can be returned to the future generations of Canadians. in a stark contrast from our southern cousins, we have a cool prime minister whose love (and mine) for our country is well expressed in Al Purdy's poem My Grandfather
    - a hundred years before
    the flood before
    Gilgamesh and Enkidu before
    Gondwanaland and Laurasia before
    God came out of the egg
    and huffed and puffed and blew
    Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees
    right about then my grandfather came by
    and sniffed and said 'Huh
    this place ain't nothin much'
    and love was born about then
    on accounta things were so awful
    what could you do
    but fall in love with our only world.


    1. hi Luce...thanks for that. I tried to be a good Canadian and be as modest as I could possibly be. But after a while I just couldn't do it. I said WTF we are the best country in the world so HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA !!!!!

  5. Anonymous1:47 PM

    Happy Canada Day!

    Canada's Centennial was the greatest party ever as far as I'm concerned. I saw it through the eyes of a child. I must admit some of my motivation working to defeat the Conservatives in the last election was to deny Harper the honour of presiding today. Strange, I know, but true.

    You're right about the importance of reconciliation and I was happy to see how Trudeau met with the indigenous protestors in their teepee. Skeptics may complain it is just symbolism but I feel symbolism is important. It conveys a much better message than the confrontation that has been so prominent in our recent past.

    You may recall in March of 2013 the Nishiyuu Walkers arrived in Ottawa hoping to meet the PM. He was in Toronto greeting the Chinese pandas instead. It was rather symbolic even though the minister, Bernard Valcourt did meet with the 7 Cree teens who had walked 1,600 km from Whapmagoostui. The teens also met with Justin Trudeau, who was not leader of the Opposition but the leader of the third party.

    As a former event planner I know the 150 celebrations would require years of planning and coordination to be as great as the centennial year. The Cons were not, and are not all about the party, that celebration kind of party, not the other one. That's how you get silly ducks that don't seem to be at all related to the national identity, instead of silly geese, or moose. Somebody should have put a few more bucks into this and created a loonie Loon instead of an off the shelf rubber duckie. What a lost opportunity.

    So let's make sure we don't miss out on lost opportunities in the future. We're pretty good, not bad, ok... I guess. Maybe we can move up in the standings next year.

    As I recall you're not really a drink a beer kind of guy. That's ok. If you came down to our dock today I'd give you one of these:

    And maybe a gentle punch on the shoulder. Keep up the rehab, Simon.


    1. hi p2p...after seeing all the peaceful parties all over Canada, and the gazillions of happy people who came down to the waterfront to see the fireworks (and the rubber ducky) I fell in love with Canada all over again. I once worked at La Ronde at a pizza joint run by the mafia. But the magic of the place was still very much alive. And thanks for the moose cupcakes, even though they're too cute to eat....

  6. Anonymous2:24 PM

    We are far from perfect but we are one of the great nations in human history. Canada is definitely worth celebrating.

    1. hi anon...yup, you're right. We maybe a very young nation but we're obviously doing something right, and Canada is definitely worth celebrating....

  7. John B.7:23 PM

    The incessant ethnopandering efforts and repetitive appeals to tribalism staged by most Canadian political parties of the left, right, centre and everything in between can become quite tedious and often hilariously transparent, but I think I'll have to look a bit harder for some instances of that "furious outrage of identity politics on the left" that the Times columnist has detected. Certainly, some parties are better at it than others and there are lots of willing subscribers, but the practice is hardly restricted to what some refer to as the "left". It's an indispensable part of politicking in a country where so many citizens were either born elsewhere or have obtained their personal pocket full-of-passports through policies enacted by foreign governments. Unless I include and restrict my observations to people living in the grip of religiosity and Kulturkampf, I don't suspect I'll find the referenced fury and outrage to be particularly overwhelming.

    I'll second what others have said here: thank the stars Mr. "Here-For-Canada"/"We've-Been-Quite-Clear-On-That" and the former Minister Glover were out of this one.

    1. hi John...there is still a fair amount of pandering to the ethnic vote, but that has always been the case in a country with so many immigrants. And I find it less than it was before, as one generation succeeds another. I also find that new Canadians are the ones that don't take this country for granted and the biggest boosters of a united Canada. As for the bit about "identity politics" I take that to mean that LGBT people and other discriminated against minorities should be seen and not heard, and you know where they can shove that one...

  8. Follow-up to my nasty comment above. Interview with Marche here gives an excellent impression of him.

    My appologies

  9. hi jrkrideau...thanks for that. I didn't want to suggest that Marche was a bad guy either. I just take issue that we can't celebrate our country, just because we are quieter than the Americans. I love our American neighbours, but I'm always glad to get back to this country. And if he lived in my millennial neighbourhood or frat house, he'd rapidly realize that we do know how to party... ;)

  10. Oh Simon, I'm so happy that you have graduated from rehab, though I doubt that you are "fully recovered" after such a short time, though you are young and healthy. Kisses and hugs to Sébastien and you (whatever our political differences). I'm happy that you are able to participate in pleasant and thrilling sporting activities as opposed to monotonous ones.

    I've had an arthritis flare and had to hobble home as opposed to riding my bicycle, as I had such intense pain that it wouldn't have been safe. My whole ride is on bicycle paths and lanes but safe as it is, we have to be wary, in terms of cars and trucks hitting us but equally in terms of not hitting or even threatening vulnerable pedestrians. It pisses me off mightily to have to take the métro or bus on a beautiful summer day, but I probably will tomorrow.

    I'm not particularly fond of patriotic celebrations, whether for Québec, Canada or anywhere else but they can be touching, in particular in smaller places. As for all the horrors done to Indigenous peoples, they were flagrant in Canada, but even worse in most other nations in the Americas.

    That is no excuse, but the evil of colonialism, and far too often cultural or physical genocide, is far more generalised.

    1. hi Lagatta...thank you for your good wishes, and you're right, I'm not fully recovered, and I might have to go back for another month when I return from Scotland. But the people at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute did an incredible job, and the pain in my back that was preventing me from sleeping properly has almost gone. As for patriotic celebrations, I'm not really big on them either. But as you point out, even though we're far from perfect, when you compare us to other places we're not doing too badly...

  11. e.a.f.6:48 PM

    I loved the rubber ducky. Now of course it didn't necessarily represent Canada and the price tag was a tad much, but it was funny. Saw it on T.V. and loved it. On the other hand I love yellow rubber duckies. Its a bit of whimsy.

    Here in B.C. we partied and partied. Huge celebration in downtown Vancouver, two days running. Surrey had a huge celebration. Our new NDP Premier travelled from Vancouver Island to Cloverdale to party there. Kelowna had a big party. Nanaimo, ditto, all over Vancouver Island we celebrated, so if the east didn't party too bad, but we had food, dancing, parades, fireworks and tons of fun.

    1. hi e.a.f....for most of the three days it was here the rugby ducky attracted huge crowds of people and boats wanting to see it and take selfies with it. And although a giant loon would have been better, it made a lot of adults and kids smile. And sometimes that's good enough...