I know, I know … I’ve had some really bad ideas in the past. The Wild Kingdom Birdfeeder with the video camera and room for the cat in the back. The Hands Across The Arctic environmental protest (My thoughts still go out to those seven guys dressed as Shriners who bit the big one on Ellesmere Island.). I swear that “driver’s seat methane gas converter” allowing a man to self-fuel his vehicle by drinking beer and eating peanuts while he motored cross-country would have worked until MADD got wind of it.
But wait. I’ve got this really great idea. Honest. No, the rubber chicken is not on my shoulder as I write this and the Belmont won’t even open for another hour.
Canada Day, July 1st is fourteen weeks away. We – and by we I mean me and the other 29,999,998 in this country you are going to contact personally once you hear my idea – have plenty of time to create a birthday party that will go into the history books.
I know we all love this country more than fresh cut fries, Terry Fox and the Maple Leaf flag itself. Every year we get bigger and bolder in our celebrations on Canada Day with louder bands, more dazzling fireworks and more A-list celebrities. And every year we look more like Americans celebrating Independence Day.
We need, on this our 146th birthday, something purely Canadian, entirely unique, highly dramatic and more fun than a barrel of monkeys having a food fight with poutine. Imagine all Canadians of every age, colour and race unified for one magical hour, all attending the same party this upcoming July 1st holiday.
Sometime in the afternoon at the exact same time across six time zones every Canadian would be listening to the radio – CBC, CHUM FM, local, national, short-wave – every radio in the country is on with the volume turned up high about to broadcast the same prerecorded 60-minute program.
Then you would hear the voice of a very special Canadian – maybe Chris Hadfield from the space station or Jian Ghomeshi from ‘Q’ or Farley Mowat from a town called Port Hope – make a very brief and simple introduction. And then … and then, for one glorious hour this great nation kicks back and together, each hearing the same lyrics at the same time and singing and yelling and yes, crying our eyes out at the words that all at once bring lumps to our throats and swells to our hearts and make us proud and for 60 magical minutes make us one, Canadians hand-in-hand whole, Canadians singularly connected like never before.
And the playlist goes like this …
“The girls are out to Bingo and the boys are gettin’ stinko,
And we think no more of Inco on a Sudbury Saturday night.”
All around the lakes of the north, we will sit out on our docks and let the sounds of Canada carry across the water.
“It’s Bud the Spud form the bright red mud,
Rollin’ down the highway smiling.
The spuds are big on the back of Bud’s rig,
And they’re from Prince Edward Island. They’re from Prince Edward Island.”
We will frolic on beaches from Cape Breton to Lake Erie to the isles of Queen Charlotte – one long conga line dancing to the beat of our favorite drummer boy, the one with the black cowboy hat.
“She loves the way it feels, driving snowmobiles,
And laughing at her dates when they don't know how to skate.
She knows her hockey games and the players of the world.
She's an all Canadian, northern lady. A real Canadian girl.”
In cities and towns we will open our windows and let the story of this great nation echo down every street and avenue. We will picnic in parks and sit clapping on coolers as the words that bring our birthright front and centre, roll over us in joy.
“Now there is one thing you can always bet
If I never smoke another cigarette.
I might get taken in a lot of deals
But I won't go workin' the tobacco fields of
My back still aches when I hear that word … Tillsonburg.”
And the hockey song? Are you kidding me? We will see grown men sobbing with their hands over their hearts to the lyrics of the good ol’ hockey game, the best game you can name?
“Hello out there, we're on the air, it's 'Hockey Night' tonight.
Tension grows, the whistle blows, and the puck goes down the ice.
The goalie jumps, and the players bump, and the fans all go insane.
Someone roars, "Bobby Scores!" at the good ol' Hockey Game.”
Oh yeah, this is absolutely doable, a Canada Day Stompin’ Tom concert with a ‘standing O’ by 30 million fans. The man who bled Maple Leaf red, is dead. He courageously sang out loud what the rest of us felt and couldn’t say because … we’re Canadian, eh? Unsophisticated? Yeah, but so were we 146 years ago. You don’t need to love his songs, you just need to love this country half as much as he did.
At the end of the hour we turn off our radios, we put our bottles of beer down and we stand while we sing, altogether now … “Oh Canada, our home and …” Yes, it is time we all learned the words by heart.
Seriously, send copies of this column to every politician, disc jockey and every social network nut in the nation. Send the column to every Canadian you know and three you don’t. I look forward to singing with you: “I know the times are changing, factories closing down. But if you stay and help us, we can turn these things around. But if you don’t believe your country should come before yourself, ya can better serve your country, by living somewhere else.”