May 18 holidays

Canada and Quebec should be renewed on a modern basis

Monument to the Patriots in Napierville, Quebec, which reads, “It is here that the Republic of Lower Canada was proclaimed on November 4, 1838 by Robert Nelson. I remember.”

Monument to the Patriots in Napierville, Quebec, which reads, “It is here that the Republic of Lower Canada was proclaimed on November 4, 1838 by Robert Nelson. I remember.”

May 18 is “Victoria Day” – an official holiday celebrating the birthday of the Queen of England. The holiday is named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and has been commemorated in Canada since 1845. In Quebec, the national holiday, called Patriots’ Day, celebrates the memory of the Quebec Patriots who fought and faced the guns, exile and the gallows of the British colonial power in 1837-1838.

The fact that Canada has a national holiday celebrating the birthday of a foreign queen serves to remind us of the surviving legacy of Canada’s colonial past. Not only does the country have an English queen as its head of state – called the Queen of Canada – but to add insult to injury we are told that this is purely ceremonial. This serves to divert from the fact that sovereignty has never even been formally vested in the people.

Few Canadians think about what it means to be a constitutional monarchy. Of more importance, there is little thought given to the fact that the arrangements created at the time of Confederation were based on a British colonial nation-building project that no longer exists. While the old nation-building project was replaced by a notion of sovereignty subservient to U.S. imperialism, none of these arrangements can solve the problems facing Canadians. Today, the crisis of nation-building is very profound due to the nation-wrecking of the monopolies in their striving to be number one within Canada and on global markets.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s Patriots’ Day brings us the memory of the Rebellion of 1837-1838 which was the fight of the nascent Quebec nation to assert its right to be and to decide its fate. In the spring of 1837 at the refusal of the British Crown to meet the demands of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, as formulated in the 92 Resolutions of 1834, large popular assemblies spontaneously broke out in every corner of Quebec. The people were demanding the creation of a modern nation-state which would enshrine their democratic rights. The rebellion was brutally crushed by iron and fire by the British colonial power. These events marked the suppression of the modern nation-state of Quebec whose existence continues to be denied to date by depriving it of its right to self-determination as an independent legal entity, free to form a union with the rest of Canada if it so desires.


Prime Minister Harper does not even acknowledge Patriots’ Day but he is celebrating the anachronistic Victoria Day by erecting military monuments throughout the country. The most recent two are war memorials in Ottawa, one to those who fought in Afghanistan and one to the recipients of the Victoria Cross, the British Empire’s highest military decoration. None of the monuments the Harper government has proposed celebrate the economic, cultural and social achievements of Canadians. On the contrary, these are fronts which he is rapidly destroying, wrecking Canada’s social fabric.

Nation-building today means the people affirming their right to exercise control over the decisions which affect their lives and building a bright future for all, leaving colonial arrangements behind. On this occasion, and in view of the upcoming federal election, Canadians must step up the work for a modern constitution and political renewal for Quebec and Canada, to vest sovereignty in the people, not the Queen of England, and remove the political parties that represent the interests of the most powerful monopolies. A modern constitution is required which establishes a free and equal union between Canada, the nation of Quebec and the nations of the Indigenous peoples. The people need political power in order to adopt a pro-social program – a nation-building project that meets the demands of the time affirms the sovereign power of the people and defends the rights of all.

Renewal Update, May 15, 2015 • No. 81

RELATED: The nation-building project of today’s Quebec Patriots

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