|Good Sunday Morning!
Good Sunday Morning! Welcome to July – 29 months to go for meaningful climate action to hold to 1.5 or 2 degrees.
It has been a time of celebration and festivities. Ever since marching in Victoria Pride last Sunday, I have had the honour of attending high school graduations and award ceremonies for outstanding young people in Saanich-Gulf Islands, leading to the weekend full of events to celebrate Canada Day.
There are any number of layers to what Canada Day means in 2022.
These are some of the first in-person events since before Covid. But last year, even our planned virtual Canada Day events in Sidney were canceled to respect the grief of the discovery of Indigenous children stolen from their families by the government and who never got home; their families not ever informed of their fate. Those grim discoveries continue and are likely to for a long time. It was one of the calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that every child stolen by the Residential School system be accounted for (Calls to Action, 73, 74). Last Canada Day, the flag on the Peace Tower flew at half mast. The flag is no longer lowered, but the mourning is long from over.
Now we have an angry protest movement using the Maple Leaf as a symbol. The use of the flag in the Ottawa occupation this last winter meant a slight shift for many in what the flag means. Particularly for Ottawa residents, they want to reclaim the flag for what it represents for all Canadians. While the convoy occupation allegedly started as a protest against vaccine mandates, its organizers had seen it as far more. I think it quite likely that the organizers, including Republicans from the US and White supremacists from Canada, saw the opportunity to test out the idea that 18-wheelers and a relatively small number of protesters could occupy a city. Many other well-meaning Canadians joined the convoy protest in Ottawa. It is important not to paint the whole group with the same brush, but the persistence in protesting supports this point. Now that most mandates have been removed, still the organizers want to “keep the momentum going” as one told the media on Canada Day. That momentum is not only anti-government, in the sense that it is libertarian, but also very much a movement of personal hatred of Justin Trudeau. Many of Friday’s protesters on Parliament Hill sported T-shirts calling Trudeau a traitor. I disagree with him on many things, but this kind of language is inappropriate and wrong.
In Ottawa, Conservative leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre and People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier tried to out-do each other as the closest to the Convoy “Freedom” movement in meeting and marching with James Topp, the Canadian veteran who walked to Ottawa to continue the so-called Freedom movement. (see below in PS for a recent article on the Conservative leadership race and climate).
Still, another layer to our response to all this has been the irony of a movement claiming Canadians are not free when Ukraine is being bombarded by Russian forces. Fighting for freedom in Canada – a blessedly free country at peace – has further undermined the notion that the convoy “freedom” movement has anything to protest.
Lastly, we have the further incongruence of the “freedom” movement that wants to fight for rights of bodily autonomy to reject vaccination, but who celebrate the United States Supreme Court’s ruling that a woman has a right to control her body – and her life – in overturning Roe v Wade.
Unpacking Canada Day in 2022 deepens the sense that everywhere we look, we are burdened with a sort of malaise. On the other hand, it was joyous to be walking in Victoria Pride and in the Canada Day parade down the streets of Sidney. So many happy people were cheering and waving and loving the chance to gather once again. With Covid still present and getting sick very unpleasant, please be careful. I am staying masked whenever in enclosed spaces as so many people I know continue to be infected and re-infected. Health authorities increasingly warn the mask mandates ended too soon. Booster shots are a good idea.
With pleasant weather, enjoy the time outdoors when we are in the safest place to avoid the virus. It has been a wonderful long weekend for me–getting from Sidney to celebrations on Saturna, Galiano and Salt Spring Island.
Hope you had a lovely time as well. Enjoy this last day of the long weekend! (and please read the PS for more on leadership news).
Happy Canada Day!
In Green Party of Canada news, the leadership rules are out and the race has begun. It will have a long slow start as no candidate can campaign until being accepted as a candidate by end of August. https://www.greenparty.ca/en/
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New petition. Please sign!
Elizabeth May is the Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C., and the Green Party of Canada Parliamentary Leader.
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens