Filipinos are familiar with young countries. The Republic of the Philippines is only 119th years old, and unlike Canada, it went through a lot of colonizers and bloodshed before it got its most coveted independence. This week marks the last week of a month-long independence celebrations, as it is very Filipino to stretch a party as far as we can.
Canada is a young country compared to most countries in Europe. Under Britain, who wanted the prestige of owning a large and vast piece of land away from the overpopulated continent to which it belonged, Canada was a prized possession. It was first called The Dominion of Canada, by the suggestion of New Brunswick’s Sir Leonard Tilley because he was inspired by the passage in the Bible from Psalm 72:28, referring to God’s dominion: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” He wanted to make sure Canada ruled itself.
Like all independent countries, Canada has had its share of bloodshed and embarrassing moments, after all, politicians took it upon themselves to take over a country so vast, they couldn’t agree where to start governing. The first Prime Minister, Conservative Party’s John Macdonald, had to resign because of the Pacific Scandal which involved the accepting of bribes (why is this not surprising?) and the Liberals under Alexander Mackenzie took over. Through the years, the Liberals and Conservatives have been at each other’s necks trying to take control, yet on the bright side, it’s comforting to know that there are only two of them who bicker, unlike the Philippines where a new party is established every time there is an election. Let’s not include the NDP and the Greens in this discussion.
So, really, 150 years of Canada is a truly exciting celebration, that despite what has gone on for the last one and a half century, the country seems to be faring better than its neighbour to the south. Celebrating 150 years should be a grand celebration, and surely, Ottawa is doing its best to promote it. Filipino-Canadians should be extra proud as Fil-Canadian Ariana Cuvin, a graphics designer from Toronto, designed the logo, with careful thought to Canada’s history and diversity.
And how are we preparing for the celebration here in BC?
We’re bickering in the Parliament as to who gets to sit in the hot seat simply because Christie Clark has tied herself to the chair and doesn’t want to let go. As John Horgan and Andrew Weaver try to pry her glued hands to the chair, the entire mess overshadows the birthday of our dear Canada, turning the luster into a mud wrestling match. With only a few days away from July 1, the folks in the Parliament still have not reached an agreement, and Clark does not want to bow out with dignity, so here we are, in the middle of their mess, trying to put together a celebration worthy of all our hardships and journeys to settle in this great nation.
So, shame on you, dear politicians. For at least a week, we’d like you to stop biting each other’s heads off, and join us in celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. Come and enjoy the stories and the triumphs of those who had to fly, swim, jump over bureaucratic red tape, survive discrimination, endure the despair of unrecognized university education and professional credentials, patiently wait to reunite with their families after years of separation, and empathize with deported and repatriated OFWs and TFWs, while you and your first world political problems take center stage just because you can control the situation. Come and join your constituents who you really don’t know, who oppose laws you have written but quietly keep their opinions to themselves, and who watch helplessly on the sides as you delay the passing of the laws that really matter. Sit with us who oppose the legalization of marijuana, assisted suicide, abortion, and other laws because they go against our beliefs, but you pass them because of a certain small group of people who make the bigger noise and because they will make you look better and more “inclusive”. Come join our simple meals because we want to celebrate the better life Canada has offered us, even without your help.
You can have cake and eat it, too. It’s on us.