I love the year end pieces that appear in the papers this time of year; the best of’s. I have lapped up the articles about the best movies, highest paid celebrities, top news stories, etc. But one year end analysis surprised me. In several papers there were editorials bemoaning the Canada 150 celebrations. Each agreed that in comparison to the centennial of 67 the sesquicentennial of 17 was pathetic. Several blamed the disappointing nature of the celebration on the “liberal intellectual elite” who would not simply cheer the nation but insisted on talking about uncomfortable topics like indigenous rights and the apology to the LGBTQ community. Some of you may remember that in my sermon on Canada 150 I said that what I was proudest of about our nation was our willingness to deal with our past sins. (I suppose this makes me one of the liberal intellectual elite).
I think that birthdays and anniversaries were made for reflection. I think it would have been a wasted year if all we had done was shoot off fireworks. (don’t get me wrong, I love fireworks) A nation that does not reflect on itself, which brooks no criticism is a dangerous thing. It is a mark of maturity that Canada can both laugh over giant toy ducks (at the harbour in Toronto) and grieve the way we have treated vulnerable peoples. When we get to our 175th and 200th anniversary the latter will be the measure by which we check our progress.
The editorialists I read each stated that their critic of Canada 150 was not based on a lack of sympathy for indigenous peoples or the LGBTQ community but I do not understand how they can make such a claim while arguing that we should not addressed these concerns. It has become fashionable to criticize ‘liberal intellectuals’ but if the alternative is ignorance or willful blindness to suffering I again am both proud and grateful for those who guided our nation’s anniversary celebrations.