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NDP leader Thomas Mulcair speaks to the media on the steps of old city hall in Calgary, Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair speaks to the media on the steps of old city hall in Calgary, Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Why Mulcair is a big fan of the Calgary Stampede Add to ...

For Canada Day, The Globe and Mail spoke to notable Canadians in Ottawa about what they liked best about the country. Here are a few responses. Read more from Chris Hadfield, Stephen Lewis, Brian Mulroney and others.

For NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, rodeos embody the Canadian spirit, and the Calgary Stampede is the country’s ultimate event.

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My first Calgary Stampede was last year, when I became leader. I had never had a chance to go out there before, so it was a great thrill for me. I had been to lots [of rodeos] in Quebec over the years, little ones, but none of them compare to the Stampede.

The country and western roots are something that cuts across linguistic and historical lines in the country, across Canada, and I think that when you’re at a western event in eastern Charlevoix, you’re still in Canada. Even though it’s western music, you’ll see as many Quebeckers taking their country dancing classes, with the same songs, sometimes the same music but with French wording. That’s a part of our rural roots in Canada that ties us together. It’s a great activity where you get a smile on everybody’s face.

The Stampede, in and of itself, is something that brings us all together, because it’s a great time. It’s something that all Canadians can relate to, because we’ve all got different parts of our heritage that go back to those types of country and rural roots, but I think that particularly [with the floods] this year, it’s a shining example of the Canadian spirit. What is happening right now in Calgary highlights the best of the Canadian character, namely the ability to surmount all obstacles.

Oceans, rivers and lakes are a big part of Canada. For Michael Ferguson, the federal Auditor-General, Canada Day has always been about getting to the water with friends and family.

Two things stand out about Canada Days past for me: people and the sea – although I will admit that the sea was sometimes the lake or the river. The people who I associate with Canada Day bring to mind something that Stephen Leacock once said: ‘I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.’

The first ‘lucky’ people were my parents who chose to make the trip across the sea to Canada in the 1950s. My mother, Norma, has remarked many times how lucky they were that they made that decision to settle in Sackville, New Brunswick. My father, Gordon, who was a surgeon, eventually became a member of the Order of Canada for his contribution here.

When I was a child, I spent Canada Day with my parents and two brothers at our cottage at Rayworth Beach in New Brunswick, on the shore of the Northumberland Strait. The seashore is a magical place for a kid, and the day would end with a sandcastle building contest – the winner got a chocolate dollar – and fireworks. Some of the other ‘lucky’ people around at the time included entrepreneur Ned Fisher, his wife Val and their family, as well as orchestra conductor Stanley Saunders and his wife Barbara. They are all fine examples of the ‘lucky’ people who were part of nurturing Canada through its adolescence.

Later, my wife Georgina and I, and our two sons Malcolm and Geoffrey, spent Canada Day alongside the Bay of Fundy at Fundy National Park, or at the Yoho Lake home of my ‘lucky’ in-laws, Buzz and Nancy Blizzard, where Canada Day marked the first day that the black flies just might be bearable. During the drive to Fundy we would often listen to Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. I intend to one day spend Canada Day in Mariposa – if I can ever find it on a map.

Roberta Jamieson, the first First Nations woman to earn a law degree, the first female ombudsman of Ontario and now the president of the Indspire Institute, supports aboriginal education.

I am inspired when I look into the eyes of my grandchildren. I have two. One is about to turn 10 and one has just turned one. I look into their eyes as their Dudah – Dudah is grandparent in our language – and we grew up believing that we are working for the seventh generation whose faces we can still see coming towards us. That’s our measure as Mohawk people, as indigenous people. And when I look into the eyes of my grandchildren, I am reminded that that’s my job every day. To work for the seventh generation whose faces we can still see coming towards us. Those are the faces that are uniquely Canadian and indigenous. Because indigenous means of the land. So that is what I am focused on and think about as we approach Canada Day.

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