Mr. Speaker, this year’s Canada Day parade in Aurora, Ontario in celebration of the founding of our great nation is expected to be the largest yet. One individual in particular deserves much of the credit for this success.Ever since Aurora held its first parade in 1969, when the late Bobby Gimby sang his hit song Canada, the town of Aurora has locally been dubbed as “Canada’s Birthday Town”. When the parade was canceled two years ago, a very patriotic Canadian swung into action. Overnight, Sher St. Kitts has nearly single-handedly transformed the Aurora Canada Day parade into one of York region’s most important events. Last year, over 10,000 citizens were treated to a sea of red and white as over 65 spectacular entries marched along the street.
With the help of Sher St. Kitts and her “red hot Canadians” parade committee, Aurora will once again, on July 1, be rightfully defending its title as “Canada’s Birthday Town”.
Before reading this I was unaware that such a self-proclaimed title needed defending.And just who exactly are we defending this from? I then started wondering if this “Red Hot Canadian” thing was a growing cult, and if there are others that get all decked out in a kooky cheerleader outfit like Snowball’s Sher St. Kitts competing to be the most Canadian. I knew I had found Sher’s equal when I found Guy Lauzon, a Conservative MP who launched his “Proud to be Canadian” campaign: http://www.journallanouvelle.ca/Around-the-townships/2009-06-24/article-794797/UnCanadian-eh/1 Guy actualy has the number of flags counted so he can routinely declare his constituents “truly the most patriotic in all of Canada.” The writer of the article described Mr. Lauzon this way: “You can call him Captain Canada if you want. He wouldn’t be insulted even if your sarcasm was blatantly obvious.” My bet is that if sarcasm is lost on Mr. Lauzon then the hypocrisy of concocting such a divisive competition as a way to celebrate unity is lost on him as well. Sound like anyone we know? I was looking to see if someone had shed some light onto the history of the “Canada’s Birthday Town” slogan and sure enough councilor Buck posted a fantastic capsule of history to the Aurora Citizen here: http://auroracitizen.ca/2009/07/08/canadas-birthday-town/ Councilor Buck states that when Norm Stewart was involved, events had style and flare and rigid adherence to the principle “Community First.” He stood for the privilege of service. I’m not sure the same can be said for Ms St. Kitts. Lois Brown lauded that the 2009 parade was “one of York region’s most important events”. If she was referring to the fantastic event from over 40 years ago that councilor Buck was recounting then I would probably agree with her. But as I tried to compare the two they seem miles apart, especially on the following two points:
1.) The Committee Chairperson would be a citizen and no politician would be allowed to exploit the event.2.) All revenues would pay for the celebration, re-pay seed money to the town and have a reserve for the next year. The celebration would not cost the taxpayer.
With the exception of events at the farmers market I don’t believe there is a single event that could be any more exploited by politicians than the parade.It has been brought to my attention that a requested from committee for an additional $2,000 be added to Sher St. Kitt’s parade budget. The request came only weeks before July 1st and was granted without any question. This brings the total budget from the town to $17,000, a $7,000 increase from last year’s parade. Considering the sizable budget, the new role of a parade coordinator, assistance from town staff and the number of volunteers one really has to question Mrs Brown’s belief that “One individual in particular deserves much of the credit for this success”. A publication titled Democratic Dialogue from the University of Ottawa had a fantastic article titled: “Patriotism, Eh?’ The Canadian Version” you can read it in full here: http://www.democraticdialogue.com/DDpdfs/PDKCook.pdf
The article sums up the national aspirations of Canadians as:
a tradition of populism that encompasses environmentalism and peaceful dispute resolution; health care for everyone; public life grounded in an ethic of fairness, honesty, and plain hard work rather than glitz and glitter.
Maybe that is the true definition of patriotism, Canadian-style.Everything else is just cheer-leading.