The 150th birthday of Canada on July 1 will be marked by official taxpayer-funded celebrations across the country, and by varying degrees of anger and disappointment at the grassroots level. Despite years of efforts to whip up enthusiasm for Canada’s supposedly nation-defining military feats, most people place far more importance on the need for decent jobs, a strong network of social and health services, a good public school system, improving pensions and universal, public Medicare, and so forth. All these human needs are under relentless attack by profit-hungry corporations and right-wing politicians – the same forces which want us to “celebrate” the heroes of Vimy Ridge, slaughtered with millions of their fellow workers in the imperialist struggle known as the First World War. No reason to celebrate here – especially since the militarist flag-waving is intended to distract attention from the federal government’s recent decision to spend $60 billion extra on the miliary over the next 20 years.
We particularly object to the sickening propaganda trumpeting the contributions of indigenous peoples to the building of Canada. Here, the level of hypocrisy is stunning. The same Prime Minister who promised to reset Canada’s relationship with indigenous peoples has been a bitter disappointment. Justin Trudeau’s record includes efforts to ram tar sands pipelines across indigenous territories, the painfully slow rollout of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women inquiry, failure to tackle the lack of clean drinking water on over 100 reserves, the appalling foot-dragging on court orders to ensure equality for First Nations children, and much, much more.
The truth is that the Canadian state was constructed on the theft of indigenous lands, imperial conquest and oppression of the French-Canadians, and the brutal exploitation of generations of immigrant workers. None of this is a reason to party, let alone to make us pay for the celebrations.