Tomorrow is Family Day in Alberta.
While we wait for Jason Kenney’s Family Day announcement extolling the virtues of the family and maybe throwing in a reference to Albertans as “people of destiny” (he hasn’t rolled out that hoary chestnut for a few months) we pause to consider how Family Day came into being.
It was Getty, right?
Most Albertans credit Progressive Conservative premier Don Getty with the creation of Family Day. What they don’t know is he got the idea from the NDP who tabled the Mid-Winter Holiday Act a year earlier. The PCs said the Act was ridiculous (what are you going to call the third Monday in February, Karl Marx Day?), inefficient (Albertans don’t want another holiday, they want to work) and expensive (businesses will have to pay their employees overtime).
They dismissed the idea…until the following year when Getty introduced the Family Day Act.
The PCs thought it was a brilliant idea. The opposition parties supported the idea of a holiday but suggested the concept of Family Day could be expanded.
Two NDP MLAs in particular; Marie Laing and William Roberts, made some compelling suggestions:
- Put Family Day into a broader context, one that focuses policymakers on truly supporting families by enacting legislation to eradicate unemployment and poverty (particularly for women and children); address the needs of troubled families dealing with domestic violence and the stress of caring for physically or mentally disabled family members, and provide services to facilitate healthy family functioning.
- Use Family Day to reflect on how families, and their needs and aspirations, should be considered in all matters of social action.
- Make Family Day more meaningful by encouraging Albertans to see all citizens as “our brothers and sisters in a … community sense” who’ll work together and support each other.
The NDP MLAs also raised the concern that the PCs seemed to be talking about Family Day from a “politics of nostalgia” perspective, a misguided sense of what the family looked like in the 1950s when “a dollar was a dollar and people used to watch CFL football games all the time.” They pointed out that it was the 1990s, those days were long gone.
The PC government rejected the Opposition’s comments as “nonconstructive”, “nonpositive”, “timid”, and “fearful”.
Premier Getty predicted Family Day would be “something that is going to…play a greater and greater role in focusing on one of the traditions, one of the foundations upon which this province is built and why it is such a great province and why we must come back to those traditions and the foundation.” (We’ll check this against Jason Kenney’s announcement tomorrow).
Tomorrow as we listen to Jason Kenney’s Family Day bromide, we will bear in mind that actions speak louder than words.
Mr Kenney’s most significant action to date has been to pass a budget that cut support for education, healthcare, seniors, postsecondary students, persons receiving AISH and Income Support and families requiring daycare. It increased the cost of car insurance and (indirectly) property taxes, while at the same time fostered a culture of victimhood and outrage that’s driving young people out of the province; all in aid of making life more profitable for corporations.
We know who holds a special place in his heart.
May we suggest he drop the pretense and simply replace Family Day with a new stat holiday; he can call it Corporation Day.