Nothing irks me more than watching money from public coffers go to waste for unnecessary, symbol-laden displays of patriotic fervour or in order to uphold and promote institutions that have very little to do with what Canadians – and Quebecers, even more so – relate to or benefit from on a daily basis.
It was therefore frustrating to come across the news recently that the Government of Canada has just unveiled plans for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations – basically a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne as Queen of Canada. Including the Diamond Jubilee Medal Program, the celebrations (costing taxpayers a whopping $7.5 M) will include community group funding, promotional materials, educational tools and a variety of events to commemorate the “joyous” occasion.
Canadian Heritage Minister, James Moore, while announcing the celebrations, stated emphatically: “Our government received a strong mandate to support and celebrate important milestones for Canada, like the Diamond Jubilee.”
Really? I don’t recall giving them that specific mandate, let alone a “strong” one. Did any of you? I’m pretty confident that none of us went to the polls in the last federal election – no matter which way we voted – thinking “I must make sure to get the Queen’s Silver Jubilee on that agenda!” I’m pretty sure that if I randomly polled a handful of you on the street, you could easily rattle off a number of other priorities you’d rather see your taxes go towards.
Nothing against the Queen… I’m sure royalty has its burdens and she’s lived a commendable life in service of her crown and the people some of us feel she represents, but, as a friend of mine suggested, can’t we just give her a gold watch and call it a day? And, maybe, at the risk of sounding a tad disrespectful, isn’t it perhaps time to include an inscription on the back of said watch “Time to go!”?
Is it really warranted that in a period of grave global financial crisis the Canadian government is throwing money around for a party? Particularly when I’ve just managed to get the image of Peter MacKay flagging down a military helicopter in order to get to a meeting earlier at taxpayers’ expense, out of my troubled mind?
Most polls have demonstrated that Canadians are pretty indifferent to the monarchy. And because its existence barely affects us in our daily lives (only a scant 5 per cent of us even know that the Queen is Head of State!) we tend to remain indifferent, undecided, and uninvolved; unless, of course, we’re reminded of the money going towards such anachronistic institutions…
Doléances pour un Québec dépassé (Grievances for an outdated Quebec)
I would be remiss if I didn’t draw your attention to one of the best blog postings I’ve read in a very long time. Jérôme Lussier, a blogger for French weekly Voir, is a pretty outspoken, articulate and passionate writer and last week his opinion piece “Doléances pour un Québec dépassé” (Grievances for an outdated Quebec) was truly an inspiring piece of work.
I believe Lussier represents a new generation of Quebecer; one comfortable in his own skin, bilingual, at ease in the world, proud and eager to preserve his French heritage and language, yet no longer responsive to the politics of fear; no longer feeling the need to be staunchly anti-anything in order to be pro-Quebec.
The article quickly spread like wildfire on Twitter, found an eager audience with many and was treated with disdain by others. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but in my opinion, he represents the future; a confident, hopeful voice announcing a new esprit d’ouverture in the mindset and attitudes of many who call this place home. In the words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin’”…
It is, without a doubt, worthy of a read.