Canada Day Reflections – II

When my children were younger and complained about something I would tell them not to just complain but to offer a solution as well. It is a sound principle: be part of the answer, not just part of the problem.  Otherwise you are just a whiner.

I have complained a couple of times about the musical offerings on Parliament Hill each Canada Day. Specifically I have said that one song is not enough from an artist I like – and too many from someone I don’t like. And every artist is limited to one song. This year was the first time I attended in almost 20 years – and I didn’t like it.

I have no solution to offer in this case, but feel I should explain why. Because I am not a whiner.

If you are Canadian you probably already understand; if you are not you may have been wondering why no-one fixes the problem of allowing major musical stars to perform only one song during a ten-hour show. Certainly there is room for more. Perhaps have fewer acts and give each one 15 minutes? You could still hear from a lot of artists that way.

That would make sense, but the Canada Day celebrations are a government-run operation. Canadians know what that means. Sense doesn’t enter the equation.

First, the performances have to respect the linguistic duality of the country. If your first performer sings in English, the next performer must be French-speaking. That order will alternate for the remainder of the day. This is a rule pretty much carved in stone, though it isn’t written in the constitution (I checked).

Secondly, to add to the linguistic balance there must be geographic balance. Each province or territory must have at least one musical representative. I am thankful that means 13 – we could be like the US and have to find room for 50 acts. But with 50 states I guess they don’t have a similar policy for their Independence Day celebrations.

There are other considerations that have been added in recent years. In these days of political correctness not only do we have to have English and French-speaking artists, but there must also be a number of Aboriginal or indigenous performers. (I’m not sure which descriptive is preferred these days.)

Add to that the reality that some artist just aren’t available because of their tour schedule, and putting together a show that will please everyone must be a nightmare for the poor civil servant tasked with overseeing the event.

I’m not sure the variety makes up for the deficiencies and then there is the dirty little secret no-one wants mentioned. The cost. Think about it. What does one song cost the taxpayers? I would think the same as a full set.

After all, if you are performing on Parliament Hill on Canada Day you probably aren’t doing a concert elsewhere that day. No matter how patriotic you are, this is your livelihood. You need to be paid. I would imagine each performer gets a full fee for their one song – that is only fair. Though a little hard on the taxpayers. They could save a lot of money by having fewer performers who play more songs. That would make this taxpayer/music fan happy.

I know it isn’t going to happen. This is Canada after all.

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