Happy Canada Day!
Alberta is the only place in Canada, I’d wager, where someone who was barely out of diapers when our country’s national holiday was renamed Canada Day would make the point they really think it oughtta still be Dominion Day.
But these are strange times and Wild Rose Country is a strange place, so it’s not a complete surprise there’s at least one Albertan young enough not to remember when Canadians still celebrated Dominion Day on July 1 who’s annoyed about it just the same.
I give you Nathan Cooper, United Conservative Party MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills and Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, a young man who obviously spent too much time in old folks’ homes trolling for votes back in the days before COVID-19 when you could still do that kind of thing.
Mr. Cooper was born in Toronto in 1980 — his online biography is not specific about the day, so we’ll just have to guess if he’s 40 yet. So he was about two years old when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the Queen sat down at that little desk in Ottawa to sign Canada’s first homegrown Constitution. That is, the moment when our Constitution became more than just a colonial relic passed at Westminster in 1867.
And I doubt there are very many Albertans Mr. Cooper’s age who even know, let alone care, that before 1982 Canada Day was known as Dominion Day — a colonialist relic if ever there was one!
Just the same, yesterday Mr. Cooper purchased an advertisement in the Olds Albertan, and presumably elsewhere in the rural riding just south of Red Deer, wishing his constituents a happy Dominion Day.
The ads also contain a ritualistic shot at Canada’s regional equalization formula, in which, as University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe feels he has to remind us from time to time, “it’s not that Alberta pays more: high-income individuals do, regardless of where they live.” A lot of them still happen to be in Alberta, but let’s never mind that happy fact today.
Most of Mr. Cooper’s constituents, not to mention folks living in other parts of Alberta, will never see this ad, since they’re unlikely ever to lay hands on an actual newspaper. Most of those who do notice it will fleetingly think … Dominion Day? WTF?
Nevertheless, Mr. Cooper is making a point to a certain part of his electorate, and that’s that he and his party think Canada was a better place when Canada Day was called Dominion Day.
That is to say, he and the UCP think Canada was a better place when it was less bilingual, less multicultural, less socially open, more socially conservative, and more colonial and colonialist in mentality.
So it’s not really the 1980s Mr. Cooper and his cohorts young and old in the UCP are pining for, but more like the 1950s, which some of us are old enough to remember and, truth be told, weren’t that great.
Some of us have also been around long enough to have survived getting used to a new name for the national holiday plus a couple of new versions of the national anthem without suffering from the psychological difficulties that seem to afflict conservative Albertans whenever something like that takes place.
Not that it really matters, but you’d think the UCP would want to consider how out of touch yammering on about Dominion Day makes them look. What’s next? The Red Ensign?
Like I said, Happy Canada Day. Get used to it.