As most Canadians probably know, September 1, 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. The Conference was a milestone in our nation’s history. It marked a time where separate groups came together to form something bigger, something that would have greater economic and military power, and something we could call united (although it wasn’t necessary for Canadians to actually put that bit in our country’s name). To celebrate this monumental moment in Canada’s history, premiers from around the nation took to the streets last week for various activities.
With the Ice Bucket Challenge flourishing through social media, premiers knew they ought to take part. The Premiers of Yukon, British Columbia, and Nunavut had dress-up “Founding Fathers” pour ice-cold water over their heads–it’s now very clear that the Economic Action Plan has stimulated job creation. The premiers took the opportunity to give shout-outs to their favourite CFL teams, and to challenge other famous people to dump cold water on their heads, which is a very popular trend these days. Overall, the event seemed to have very little to do with ALS or Canada, and much more to do having a little fun while trying to gain some popularity. The Ice Bucket Challenge was definitely exciting, but it wasn’t the highlight of pre-conference events.
To further remind Canadians that our political scene is still dominated by old white males 150 years after the original conference, premiers recreated a photographed moment from 1864. Oddly enough, recent advances in photographic technology did not make the premiers look any less wrinkly, white, or male. At least there’s been some progress now that Christy Clark and Kathleen Wynne are in office–at this rate it will only take 300 more years for half of Canada’s premiers to be women and 600 years to reach that same number of openly LGBTQ premiers.
As Stephen Harper said when he announced a $5 million funding boost to the Conference in June, “One hundred and fifty years ago at the Charlottetown Conference in Prince Edward Island, the Fathers of our Confederation gave birth to the idea of a united Canada.” Indeed, the Fathers did. They gave birth to the idea of a united Canada that would systematically grant privilege to those who created it. Based on the 2014 conference’s photoshoot, it still seems like it could still be that way.
But hey, it’s not all bad. Shania Twain’s playing live in concert, and, as we know from her inspirational lyrics, “Up, up, up–can only go up from here!”