People are, as expected, whooping it up today in celebration of Canada Day and it is even the topic for Cross-Country Checkup. People are talking about their thoughts and what they are celebrating today. Others, such as those in the "Twitter-verse" are sending out an important anti-Harper message today.
I came to Canada in the mid-seventies from the US and since coming I have lived back in the US for a number of years as well as living in England (where I was born) and in Central America. And I must say that this year Canada saddens me quite a bit. I am not a big fan of "patriotism" in general. I think it consistently blinds people to the darker, more lamentable, parts of their nation. But I also think that, despite many problematic issues (such as treatment of the indigenous people) there has been much to celebrate about Canada. However, this is a rather sad year because many of the things that I have, over the past few decades, found worth celebrating are quickly disappearing. Many of these things that I find valuable were largely unknown to most people, such as the programme to support Charter appeals. This programme was one of the important programmes that helped to limit the arbitrary power of government. Our current government, which seeks to be able to use whatever power they choose, put paid to all that pretty quickly. Other programmes, particularly those which were intended to increase gender equity at all levels, are also gone. Canada was once a world leader on Environmental and Peace issues. Now our country is more or less an international embarrassment on these issues. Instead of celebrating past wars (which in this case was little more than a boarder skirmish), we used to celebrate our contributions to peace-making and constitutional innovations for freedom.
Today were are quickly becoming little more than a petro-state that is increasingly bigoted and war-mongering. Among the issues that depress me the most is frighteningly one-sided position that our government takes on the conflict in Palestine. Since I came to Canada economic and social inequality has increased dramatically and it gets worse every year. All of these things depress me and on Canada Day I feel more like mourning than celebrating.
There are a few things that I am still proud of. I am proud of the Quebec protestors who have faced consistently poor public opinion and police brutality. They are standing up for the principles of equality that we should all be standing for. I am proud of the people like David Suzuki, a man with whom I don't always agree but who struggles for sound principles with energy and fearlessness. I am proud of all the environmentalists who are trying to save this country and the world despite momentous opposition from the rich and powerful. I am proud of many of the leftwing bloggers who keep us informed. I am proud of the union activists who struggle for the rights of workers here and abroad. I am proud of the people who work tirelessly to help all of those who are most vulnerable.
Harper and his cronies have been working hard to destroy Canada and all that it means. Others are struggling for justice and equality and they will keep on fighting. On Canada I chose to remember and celebrate those indispensables.