You may know it as Heritage Day, Natal Day, Simcoe Day, Civic Holiday or something else, depending where you live. This week, The Globe and Mail invites readers and writers to consider a truly national name for the August holiday Monday.
You can share your own ideas for X Day. On the long weekend, we’ll have a look at some of the ones you’ve chosen, plus an essay by Warren Clements on what’s in a holiday name – the people, the controversies and what really resonates.
It’s fitting I’d be asked to weigh in on the subject of an appropriate universal name for the August long weekend. Fitting because a heated debate over this very question broke out one year ago, during my traditional August long weekend barbecue. It’s an informal affair; I only invite the people I love and respect the most.
It was The Honourable Jason Kenney who started the debate. “I believe,” he said, between mouthfuls of Libby Davies’s famous extra-salty homemade potato salad, “we should call this weekend Suzuki Days.” Thankfully, David Suzuki wasn’t there to hear the suggestion because let’s face it, his ego does not need further stroking. The Nature of Things host was further down the beach enjoying an Okanagan Valley chardonnay and tending to his traditional August long-weekend tire fire. He loves a tire fire.
Justin Trudeau, working the pig spit (sun’s out, guns out) got in the game. “ ‘Trudeau Weekend’ has a nice ring to it,” he said. “It would speak to the youth and the middle class of this, my home, my native, my land.” As he said it, a single tear tumbled down his bronzed cheek.
I expected the idea of “Trudeau Weekend” would get a negative and loud reaction from Senator Mike Duffy but – as usual – he was busy whispering jokes into Nigel Wright’s ear. Those two should get married!
Nigel had an opinion, though: “I would call this weekend Martyr Day,” he said, “after the eight Jesuit missionaries who were captured, tortured and gloriously martyred in the mid-17th century during the war between the Huron and the Iroquois. I love those guys.”
Way to take the room down, Nigel.
“Who’s up for a quick 30K between courses?” he said, and off he went.
From then on, the ideas came fast and furious. CBC star Rosie Barton insisted the holiday weekend be named after seminal Canadian artist Neil Young and barring that, famous Winnipeg-raised wrestler Rowdy (Roddy) Piper. “If it’s not a Winnipegger,” shouted Rosie, “I will rain hellfire on the nation.” Evan Solomon moved very slowly toward the Colville Bay Oysters.
After that, most of the ideas floated were just plain silly, like the suggestion from Peter Mansbridge. Two minutes after slamming an EpiPen into minister Leona Aglukkaq’s right thigh (she’s both allergic and addicted to seafood), Mansbridge, now a bona fide hero, opined that the holiday should be called “Macdonald Day” after our first prime minister. My, how we laughed. That one sounded suspiciously like an exercise in “nation building.”
When pushed, Pierre Poilievre said he had no opinion on what the holiday should be called because he couldn’t find any speaking notes on the subject in his BlackBerry. When I told him there was no service on the beach, he was apoplectic. Out of reach of the Prime Minister’s Office, he became a hysteric. He ran down the beach, sobbing, and threw himself headlong into the Suzuki tire fire, not wanting to live in a world where he couldn’t get minute-by-minute instructions from Dwayne, the 21-year-old PMO intern from Moosonee.
Luckily, Chantal Hébert grabbed Pierre seconds before he burst into flames and threw him into the cold Atlantic, where he quickly slipped into early-stage hypothermia. “So much for global warming,” said Suzuki, refusing to throw him a rope.
Eventually, Peter MacKay showed up (late, of course), helicoptering in with Randy Bachman, Rob and Doug Ford, Naheed Nenshi and Great Big Sea.
MacKay wanted to name the holiday after “the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the Canadian forces, who spend their lives defending freedom and their final days lost in a phone tree with Veterans Affairs attempting to get respect and benefits.”
Mayor Nenshi tweeted that it was too wordy and potentially an admission of liability.
Mayor Ford poured himself a vodka gravy and announced that the weekend should be called “Pepsi.”
Basically, it went that way until dawn. Pierre lived, brought back to life thanks to Libby Davies’s healing shawl.
In hindsight, many tremendous suggestions were floated, but eventually we had to agree to disagree. A universally acceptable name for the holiday seemed unlikely. In fact, according to Mansbridge, it’s not even a holiday in some provinces. The only thing we could agree on was that anyone who gets a long weekend in August should call themselves lucky – what they call the day off is secondary.