In my third term in government, I have come to conclude that Canada Day is to elected officials at all levels what Christmas is to the clergy. In the weeks leading up to Canada Day, organizations know that Canadians have their eye on their short summer, and the last few weeks in June are what the the weeks before Christmas must be like in the toy factory at the North Pole. We have barbecues, annual meetings, picnics, award dinners, graduations and all the events Canadians like to have in late spring just before they mentally and physically check out for that part of our gloriously short summer in which they don’t have to work.
Then there is Canada Day itself.
My “day” started on Canada Day eve, with a wonderful exhibit and performance at the Tzu Chi Bowling and Bazaar. I joined my Etobicoke colleague, Donna Cansfield, in bringing welcoming remarks from the Province. Donna had recently visited Taiwan, and developed warm friendships with some of the people attending the event.
Just as Santa kisses Mrs. Claus goodbye, hitches up the reindeer and starts his twilight odyssey on Christmas Eve, I too hopped into the car to go over to the mosque on Campobello Mews in Meadowvale to join the Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada for a midnight Canada Day cake-cutting. In fact, there were two cakes: one for Canada and one for the USA, which celebrates Independence Day each July 4th. Each cake was in the shape of that country’s flag. Everyone sang Oh Canada, and they had a singer perform the Star Spangled Banner.
The mosque in Oakville, the Masjid Noor ul Haram, hosted me and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton for a Canada Day flag-raising. A lot of the mosque’s congregation come from Lisgar and Meadowvale.
On Canada Day, the first flag-raising was at the Masjid Noor ul Haram, the new mosque on Ninth Line, just south of Dundas Street. When their new building is complete, it will be an architectural gem, with four spectacular minaret towers. Canada Day samosas and fried chicken was there for everyone. One of the members of the mosque community serves with the Canadian Forces, and has a chest full of medals for service in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia and other global hot spots. We ran up the Canadian flag, sang Oh Canada , and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton and some members of the Town of Oakville council joined me in making brief Canada Day remarks.
I joined MP Brad Butt and Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr in visiting Leisureworld, the long-term care home on Bristol Road for their Canada Day party for the seniors. My Royal Canadian Legion buddy Art Letts, who served in Italy during World War II, lives there. I stopped by Art’s room to say hello. He is still looking spry and healthy and remains up to his customary mischief.
MP Brad Butt and left, and MPP Bob Delaney raise the Canadian flag at a Canada Day ceremony at the Hindu Heritage Centre in Streetsville.
The Hindu Heritage Centre, the beautiful new building in Streetsville on Mississauga Road between the tracks and Erin Mills Parkway held the next local flag-raising. Spiritual Leader Surender Sharma (Shastri-ji) asked his people made my assistant Humaira and I a nice cup of masala-chai (Indian tea) while we had a short wait for Brad Butt to arrive. We all assembled at the flag pole, and ran the maple leaf flag up while singing Oh Canada. The Hindu Heritage Centre has quickly become one of Streetsville’s landmarks, and the work they have done to bring the ambience of Hinduism to Streetsville, both inside and outside, is awesome.
As always, they had a Canada Day barbecue at Heritage Square seniors residence in Meadowvale. I had the last of my Canada flag posters to give away, while Brad handed out his Canada flag pins and his miniature Canadian flags. We both had a chance to chat and answer questions. I glanced at my watch, and realized that time had run away on me, and I had to dash home and get the cats fed, as Andrea was downtown with one of her sons.
I barely had time to look after the cats before driving into Streetsville, where Hazel, Brad, Ward 11 Councillor George Carlson and I cut the final Canada Day cake of the Day, and wished the revellers in the centre of Streetsville a happy Canada Day as the sun began to set.
Brad, George and I all decided that our Canada Day had been long enough, and headed home. Andrea and I got to finally have a glass of wine as our neighbours set of their firecrackers and ruined the cats’ evening out with us in the back yard. Both of them bolted for the house as soon as the first big bang started.
I wonder what time of day Santa gets home from his rounds. Happy Canada Day, and I hope everyone in Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville has a warm, pleasant and relaxing summer.