Government announces themes for 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017

Attempts to divert the people from the pressing questions of our time

On May 25, Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly announced the government’s themes for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 under the slogan “Time for Youth and Active Living!”
The announcement came during what was described as “an outdoor canoeing activity” at Kiwanis Memorial Park in Saskatoon. Four themes were announced for the official celebrations to take place next year: “diversity and inclusion, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, youth and the environment.” Joly said that the upcoming anniversary “gives the Government of Canada an opportunity to engage and inspire Canadians in their communities” and is “a time to come together to celebrate our shared values, our achievements, our majestic environment and our place in the world.”[1]

The Harper government used the upcoming 150th anniversary of Confederation as an opportunity to assault the historical consciousness of Canadians and promote a chauvinist image of Canada “Strong, Proud, and Free.” The Liberals promote their own chauvinist notions of Canada while spreading their divide and rule policies in the name of strength in diversity. With their decision on how Canadians should mark the anniversary they want to make sure no serious discussion takes place on the problems of today.

A government backgrounder issued May 25 elaborates on the themes for the anniversary:

“Diversity and inclusion — We want to continue building a welcoming Canada where there is a place for everyone, a Canada where everyone can reach his or her full potential.

“Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples — We want to support the vital work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples as outlined in the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Reconciliation is a journey for all Canadians as we move forward into Canada’s next 150 years.

“Youth — We want to continue to engage young people and give them the means to contribute to our society, because they are the ones who will shape tomorrow’s Canada.

“Environment — We want to be the custodians of our environment, because it is a source of our country’s wealth and pride. We want to bring Canadians closer to nature in order to strengthen their environmental awareness.”

Confederation refers to the act of uniting four separate colonies of the British Empire including the Quebec nation into a Dominion of Canada. Confederation is marked on July 1 as the date the Act went into effect. Canada. The conditions and terms of the union were spelled out in the British North America Act, 1867 which received royal assent by the Queen on March 29, 1867. One of the purposes of Confederation was to create a bulwark against U.S. continentalism, a key part of the raison d’etat of Canadian colonial state.

The Constitution of Canada consists of the British North America Act, 1867, the various Acts bringing other provinces into the federation, and the Constitution Act, 1982 which added the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 35 of of the Constitution, and transferred formal control over amendments to the Constitution from Britain to Canada. This process was legally referred to as A Consolidation of the Constitution Acts 1867 to 1982.

The British North America Act remains the foundation of the Constitution and political system of Canada to this day. This constitution has never been modernized despite the 1982 amendments which claim to protect rights and freedoms, but place what are called reasonable limits on these rights which provide ample opportunities for governments to shirk their responsibility and violate rights with impunity.

It is under this Constitution that the working class and people of Canada are marginalized, disempowered and disenfranchised from control over political and economic affairs; it is the Constitution under which the Indigenous nations and Quebec nation are denied their national rights; it is the Constitution under which all sections of the people such as women, national minorities and others do not have their specific rights guaranteed and realized but instead turned into empty policy objectives. To suggest that the rights of Indigenous peoples can be guaranteed by the Constitution which has permitted all the crimes of the state to be committed against them then and now is the height of deception.

This is what the Liberal government does not want Canadians to discuss and draw warranted conclusions from. In other words, the government suggests that there can be a “Canada where everyone can reach his or her full potential,” where there can be genuine reconciliation and where the youth or any of the people can “shape tomorrow’s Canada” without a modern constitution which comes from the people themselves. It is therefore presenting an ahistorical rendering to ward off such conclusions and block the people’s movement for empowerment.

Renewal Update thinks that the Liberal government must not be allowed to pave the way for more crimes against the people with its dismissal of the serious problems of our time. Now is the time for Canadians to begin their preparations for the 150th anniversary of Confederation by putting on the agenda the need for profound constitutional and political renewal. The Marxist-Leninist Party puts itself at the disposal of the working class and people in this important work and is beginning a vigorous program to involve Canadians in discussion on the constitution and political process in the lead up to 2017.


1. The Liberals’ vapid rendering of how the issue of Confederation poses itself today was compounded by the “Pan-Canadian Signature project” also announced by Joly. The project is called “ParticipACTION: the Ultimate List of 150 Canadian Physical Activities.” It involves $5.4 million in government funding for the non-profit organization ParticipACTION for a “Play List project.” The project will “challenge all Canadians to try out 150 unique physical activities that define us as Canadian.” A survey will be held in October 2016 asking Canadians to help choose the 150 physical activities to be included on the list, and the project will launch in January 2017.

The “Play List” involves “premier partners” from private monopolies who also took part in the event with Minister Joly such as Marianne Harrison, President and CEO of Manulife Canada, and Gary Maavara, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Corus Entertainment. Chevrolet Canada is also a “premier partner.”

Minister Joly previously announced that local events for the anniversary will be organized by a private group called Community Foundations of Canada through its project called the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th. The government awarded this organization $10 million to approve and disburse funds for official celebrations. For more information, see Renewal Update, March 21, 2016.

Source: Renewal Update, June 1, 2016 – No. 17

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