By G.D. Maxwell
This weekend, Canadians from coast to coast to coast with the notable exceptions of Newfoundland and Quebec will celebrate well, lets just leave it at that. Theyll celebrate.
Canadians arent really very good at celebrating. It makes them uneasy. Its too much like boasting. Canadians consider boasting an American shortcoming and therefore go out of their way to avoid boasting unless theyre boasting about something that distinguishes them from Americans, in which case theyll beat whatever it is to death boasting about it.
But celebrating makes Real Canadians a little uneasy. After all, somewhere, someone is suffering in this unjust world and as long as that poor, unfortunate, overlooked, oppressed person cant get into the swing of things, who are we, after all, to be celebrating. Shame on us.
A good example of this occurred late last winter. Feeling particularly listless on a Monday evening, I was channel surfing and found myself wondering once again how, in a 500 channel universe, I couldnt find anything remotely engaging. Id winnowed the dismal choices down to two. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, our beloved public broadcaster, was showing a suitably sombre exposé about starving Somalians. Austere in the extreme but totally in keeping with the overall Leave No Third-World Person Behind guilt-tripping mentality. Meanwhile, over on the US public broadcaster, PBS, there was a show called, Sandwiches that Taste Great . It was a sybaritic travelogue dedicated to ferreting out the most tasty sandwiches in the USofA.
I tussled with my conscience for maybe 30 seconds and went with the sandwiches. Ive been in Canada long enough that my choice made me feel a little guilty. But Im still American enough that it made me feel hungry. Talk about your two solitudes.
Cultural hangups aside, this is the August Long Weekend and its time to dance and celebrate. Discretely though, were Canadian.
Having wrested another statutory holiday from the captains of industry, who would gladly see us shackled to our Means of Production 365 days a year if they could get away with it, let us honour the first Monday in August in all its utter lack of meaning.
This is, after all, the quintessential Canadian Holiday. Contrived, borrowed, and with absolutely no connection to anything thats ever happened anywhere in the country, it verily screams Canada.
Eight years ago, in an effort to give the holiday some panache, the government of British Columbia declared the holiday formerly known as the August Long Weekend Civic Holiday would henceforth be known as British Columbia Day. I dont know about you but my heart just about bursts with provincial pride at the mere thought of celebrating British Columbia.