How to brush off a request

(Canscene) — In the March issue of Canscene, I wrote an article which contained the following passage:

“Isn’t it time a government did stand up for Canada and what better term of endearment could win friends and influence voters then to declare Flag Day, February 15 a national holiday?

“Or did we forget that it was Liberal Lester B. Pearson who spearheaded the fight for Canadians to have their own flag and to this day remains demonized in the hearts of aging die hards who resented the lowering of the Union Jack. However, most former “colonials” now living here don’t buy this reactionary attitude at all and cherish our flag.

“If you feel that a national holiday should celebrate this great occasion, please write to:

The Honourable Bev Oda, MP
Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6”

Reply a masterly exercise in excuses
One supporter of my suggestion received this reply written for the minister, one presumes, by one of those specialists in evasion that infest ministry staffs.

“I am writing in response to your correspondence of March 22, 2006, addressed to the Honourable Bev Oda, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, suggesting that an additional national holiday be declared to honour the Canadian fag.

“On February 15, 1996, the day of the anniversary of the proclamation of the Canadian maple leaf flag was officially declared National Flag of Canada Day. Every February 15 since, celebrations have been organized to commemorate this important day. The Department of Canadian Heritage produces various promotional material to celebrate Flag Day and encourages Canadians to get involved and organize their own community celebrations.

“The Government of Canada receives numerous requests to proclaim a special day for a particular cause; however, it does not have the constitutional authority to declare a national holiday for all Canadians or for all business or industrial sectors. The process for declaring a statutory holiday is extremely complex and it requires either the amendment of existing legislation or the creation of new legislation.

“The definition of days off for employees is determined by provincial/territorial labour codes. To establish a holiday as a national special day, it has to be adopted by all of the provinces and territories under their respective Holiday Acts and labour codes. It also depends on whether a particular holiday is included in the applicable collective agreements between employers and employees.

“Since each province and territory is responsible for determining the different options for employers and employees who do not fall under federal jurisdiction with regard to statutory holidays and fair time off, you might wish to bring your suggestion to the attention of the respective provincial and territorial departments of labour.

“I regret that my reply could not be more favourable. Please accept my best wishes.”

May I respectfully suggest, Madam Minister, that the Government of Canada spark a national initiative to discuss the possibility of creating such a holiday.

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