Give Other Cities a Shot at “Official” Canada Day Ceremonies

Every July 1, people from across Canada take time to celebrate our great nation. When this statutory holiday triggers a long weekend and coincides with sunshine and warm temperatures, it can also make for wonderful memories.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve made it a habit of turning on the television to watch the “official” Canada Day ceremonies in Ottawa. It is my small way of demonstrating a bit of patriotism.

Attending the event in Ottawa this year were Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family, the Governor General and James Moore, a B.C. Member of Parliament. Moore is Canada’s heritage minister and technically in charge of the event.

In addition to the obligatory singing of God Save the Queen and O Canada, the opening act included an acrobatic troupe of dancers prancing on stage and carrying over-sized street signs.

Once again, the event failed to capture the vitality and youthful spirit of our nation. Not all the performances were bad, but there is something about the event taking place on Parliament Hill that leaves me yearning for more.

That’s why I think the time has come to shake things up a bit when it comes to our official Canada Day celebrations. One idea might be to begin moving the event around each year.

This would not only immediately inject some life into the party, it would transform it into a truly inclusive national celebration — not simply just another Ottawa-based event.

Once upon a time, Canada’s top music awards ceremony also used to be held in the same city each year. When ratings began to plummet, the Junos decided it was time for the show to hit the road.

Now the Junos are held in a different city each year and their new format has proven popular with music fans. In fact, cities even compete for the rights to host them.

Ottawa could easily conduct a similar process for our official Canada Day ceremonies. Starting in 2014, they should ask our big cities and local sponsors if they’d be prepared to co-host this major event.

I have no doubt Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver would put in a bid in a heartbeat. Even smaller centres such as Winnipeg, Hamilton or Quebec City would get in on the act.

While Ottawa residents may balk at the prospect, decentralizing this special event would prove politically popular outside the beltway.