Do we really need a provincial holiday? - Denny Scott editorial
While the death of Queen Elizabeth is, undoubtedly, a tragedy to those who knew her best, the push by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to designate Monday, Sept. 19 as a provincial holiday, on top of the federal holiday he made it, may be a little frustrating for some people.
And before people start filling my inbox with angry letters about me disrespecting the late Queen - that’s not what I’m at here. I won’t say I’m for or against the Monarchy or the Queen or anyone in the Royal Family… except for Prince Harry. Anyone who risks the ire of his own family to make the best decision for his wife and children is taking a worthwhile stand in my opinion.
No, this isn’t about the Queen’s passing, but about the way we treat other Canadians, specifically those who serve in the military.
Trudeau choosing to make Sept. 19 a federal holiday is one thing, but he went on to say that he wants to work “with the provinces and territories to try and see that we’re aligned” on the move, and that seems a little shortsighted.
Yes, it’s important, as Trudeau said, for Canadians who feel strongly about the Royal Family to have a chance to mourn the Queen’s passing and take in the funeral, but do we really need a holiday for that?
I mean, even to honour our fallen soldiers, we only take off a moment of silence on Remembrance Day in Ontario (unless you’re a federal or Crown employee) and that’s for tens of thousands of soldiers who have paid the ultimate price. Sure, they might not have been royalty, but they were certainly important to the families they left behind.
Federal holidays are only mandated for people who work for federal agencies, like the federal government and Crown corporations. That’s why the post office is closed on Easter Monday. Remembrance Day is also not observed in four Canadian provinces, including Ontario, as a statutory holiday. So if Trudeau wants to make Sept. 19 a federal holiday, it’s his right to do so. Making it a provincial holiday, well, there are other considerations to be mindful of if that's the case.
Just to change it up, let’s talk about Remembrance Day here. There are plenty of great reasons people have shared as to why we should continue to mark Remembrance Day as we have.
Some people believe that a day off on Nov. 11 would result in people forgetting the importance of the day versus the impact of that single moment of silence. Others may say we have the freedom to go to a service that morning because of the very men and women being honoured that day.
Others still say that keeping children in school for Remembrance Day and having them either attend or even host their own events to mark the occasion will be far more memorable than another day for them to play with friends, watch television and possibly lose the message.
(Personally, I don’t think we give kids enough credit when it comes to those kinds of arguments, but I’m a relatively new parent, maybe I’ll change my tune when I’m raising a teenager.)
Then there are the bean counters who will break down the idea of a holiday to how much it costs the economy. As someone who respects those who protect, serve and have sacrificed for us, I’d like to kindly tell those people to blow it out their rear. However, I’m sure they are a voice that our leaders will heed when discussing whether or not something should be made a holiday.
There are a lot of arguments for and against having Remembrance Day being a holiday, and, aside from the bean-counting ones, they may all hold merit.
Why does that matter? Well, taking a day to remember one person and taking a day to remember tens of thousands of people could be looked at similarly. If people think that Remembrance Day would just become another day to relax and people would lose the message, who is to say that giving the entirety of the country the day off for the Queen’s funeral wouldn’t result in the same behaviour? If all we need is a moment of silence to honour tens of thousands of soldiers who have lost their lives, then surely all we need is a moment to honour the Queen, right? If, however, people feel they need a whole day to remember the Queen, maybe we’ve been shortchanging those memorialized by Remembrance Day. Like I said, I don’t care one way or the other, as long as we’re giving an equal amount of respect to those who deserve it.