Canada’s 150th birthday party was worth the sticker shock

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 2, 2018 - 6:47am Updated: January 2, 2018 - 11:47am

KAMLOOPS — As 2017 passed into the history books the other night, you may or may not have thought about the end of our nation’s celebration of 150 years.

It’s worth thinking about, because we spent an estimated $610 million on this year-long birthday party celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial.

We did a lot with those millions — there were festivals and souvenirs and signs everywhere, major art exhibits. Songs were commissioned, museums expanded, fireworks were set off.

In Kamloops, Canada 150 coincided with 50 years since the beginning of amalgamation, the 50th anniversary of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, and 100 years since Vimy Ridge, to which Kamloops sent several of its own.

Our national creativity knew no bounds. In Ontario, $120,000 funded a huge rubber duck, in Calgary close to half a million was spent on a giant game of snakes and ladders — representing Canada’s ups and downs, in case you were wondering.

And, there was the multi-million-dollar temporary outdoor skating rink in front of the Parliament Buildings.

We griped about much of it, of course. Waste of taxpayers’ money and all that. One survey taken mid-year showed that 70 per cent of us felt the cost was too high.

A few protests claimed Canada 150 ignored Indigenous history, which, as we know, goes back much further than a century and a half in this part of the world.

Any undertaking of this magnitude is bound to be subject to criticism but the bottom-line question is, was it worth doing, and did it make us proud?

Fundamentally, the answer lies within our own patriotism. Canadians aren’t horn blowers but we’re proud of our country and what it stands for. The values that form the basis of Canadian society are worth celebrating.

Canada 150 allowed us to express that pride. It wasn’t a perfect party, but we won’t be sorry we had it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.