Viva la revolucion

So everyone’s excited, because that most glorious of occurrences is upon us once more. The three-day weekend, the Monday which won’t feel like a goddamn Monday, because (unless you’re working overtime), we will be chilling.

I am not, nor will ever be, the one to dismiss or criticize a holiday, especially a paid, federal holiday. But I come to ask myself what exactly we’re supposed to be celebrating this Monday. My calendar informs me that we’re taking the day off in honor of the Queen, more specifically, Queen Victoria, who ruled the British Empire more than a century ago. Of course, anyone who’s ever seen a map, or has a basic understanding of geography, knows that Canada is not the UK, or England, or Great Britain, or any of the myriad names with which the former owners of the world style themselves. Yes, Canada, last I checked, is a sovereign nation.

Why, then, are we celebrating the reign of a foreign monarch? I’m a history major, so don’t come up to me and remind me of the fact that Canada, for a long time, belonged to Britain. They came over here, did their thing, and arguably did (most of) the (white) people of this continent a great deal of good. But this is 2013. I will not try to discuss the Commonwealth, which seems like No Longer So Great Britain’s attempt at at least fronting as though it’s a world power. Rather, the point I’m trying to make is that it might be time to take the Queen’s face off our fazools, and make Canada a state with no ties to the British Empire anymore. Can we leave them there, with their kings and queens and rooks and anything they like, and just be us, over here? Canada is no longer a part of Great Britain, so why continue to pledge allegiance to the Queen? Why don’t we cut that charade?

Are you ready for the next episode?

Are you ready for the next episode?

Sometimes, in the course of writing, I answer my own questions. The reason the charade is not cut is that the monarchy is a symbol. As with all symbols, it is multifaceted, and in Canada, it is here because it is wanted here, though by whom I can’t quite say. Most people accept it, for their own reasons. The symbol, seen and accepted, becomes legitimized. Self-sustaining. But a symbol is very hard to topple. It tugs at people on an unexplainable level. We become attached to them, they represent us. They summarize, and incarnate, complex feelings and thoughts. They provide answers.

But what answers do we need right now? Why should Canada, which is sitting pretty atop a massive reserve of every resource that man covets, with space like forget about it, and with the kind of standard of living that causes most countries to jealously talk shit behind our backs, want to rock the boat? What kind of answers does Canada need right now?

Well, believe it or not, Canada, as far as I can observe, is still a country in search of its identity. We are newbies on the world stage, having timidly accepted our independence when our British overlords decided that they could save some money and soldiers by simply giving us nominal independence and calling us a “dominion”. Sure, that sounds like a cool name, until you actually think about it. This country was a dominion, in other words, we were dominated by the British, and constantly subjected, like a reluctant kid who has to follow his parents to all kinds of boring functions, to the whims of the Brits. Now, I’m not saying Canada shouldn’t have gotten involved in the World Wars, for example. Kaiser Wilhelm was no doubt cruisin’ for a bruisin’, and Hitler, well, was Hitler. We took it to them, but as auxiliaries of the British, not as our own nation.

What kind of nation should Canada become, then? Well, that’s where we have our work cut out for us. I’m going to use a word now, which may immediately cause either hate-boners, or regular boners: separatism. There is a place in Canada called Quebec, in which the people there speak a strange language known as French. The French-speaking Canadians have often felt marginalized in the larger Canadian society, and in light of the historical context, it’s not completely incomprehensible. We’re supposed to be a bilingual nation, though. Why don’t we add that to the discourse? Why don’t we take this country in a direction that we choose, not one determined by the royal tomfoolery of an archaic royal family from another country? Replace the symbols, replace them with our symbols. And in the process of agreeing on this shit, we might be able to come together, for real, as a nation.

In Quebec, Victoria Day is known as the Journée des Patriotes, to commemorate the rebellion of 1837-38 against the British. The message is not exactly subtle, but nevertheless, the idea is sound: At least those fucking guys lived here in Canada. Ask yourselves, Canadians: what loyalty do I have to the monarchy, what does it mean to me. You all, who come from everywhere around the world, what attachment do you have to the royal family? Do you love your country? I do, that`s why I want to see it move forward. Let`s cut out this fake royal formality, let`s save our tax dollars, let`s decide, as one people, what kind of country we want Canada to be, going forward. It’s been real, UK, but it`s time for us to go our own way. Our Prime Minister should not even be nominally accountable to the Queen. And once we finally decide to take that step, and engage in a real, inclusive discourse, which might actually lead to actual, you know, change, we`ll find that the differences which seem so steep and entrenched now, between East and West, or French and English, are really not that significant. We`ve got a massive, virtually empty, and resource-rich plot of land, and we can do whatever we want with it, because we`re the ones living in it.

If you asked me, the day we renounce our fealty to the British royal family is the day we`ll enter a golden age, guided by that greatest and deepest of commonalities which binds all Canadians: how much we don`t want to be like Americans.