Pay Up and Lace Up, Canada

Proud to be Canadian! A slogan we’ve been passing down for generations. We hold our heads quite high here in Canada, in hopes that our various cornball stereotypes will hide darker mistakes from our past. As well as the on-going decisions made in poor judgement, by those in charge of our home and native land. 

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thankful to have been born in a small rural Ontario town. And it’s true, many of those cheesy stereotypical traits you hear about us are accurate. My hometown is a quiet place, full of truck-driving, toque-wearing folk. Simple country bumpkins who make daily trips to the Tim Horton’s drive-thru (yikes, sorry to the people of Napanee). Truest of all, we love our various ice sports. But, does our love of ice really warrant a multi-million dollar temporary outdoor ice rink on Parliament Hill?  

Photo by  Filip Mroz  on  Unsplash

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Here we are–It’s the year 2017–Canada’s 150th Birthday. A year of coast-to-coast celebrations which have already cost taxpayers over 500 million dollars. But wait, 500 million dollars seems low, no? On December 7th, Parliament Hill opened their outdoor skating rink to the public. It had been in construction for a few weeks and is the big wigs’ way of capping off Canada’s 150th Birthday celebrations. This temporary outdoor skating rink is expected to cost taxpayers 5.6 million dollars. And get this; you’ll have less than a month to skate on it. 

The tickets are FREE!? But, how could that be? Before you go getting your mittens in a twist, yes, the tickets themselves are free, and can be reserved online here. However, this isn’t a Christmas present from our government. You are paying for this. 

The outdoor rink will be open for public skating from 10am until 10pm Monday-Friday, and from 8am until 10pm Saturday-Sunday. You can expect various light shows and musical performances, as well as a Peewee level hockey tournament involving 32 teams from across Canada. There will be a tepee set up on the hill, and Officials claim that Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples will be centre stage throughout the festivities. 

Yet, something just doesn’t feel right to me. Why couldn’t we have made Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples centre stage throughout our entire 150th year?

Photo by  Kacper Szczechla  on  Unsplash

I have a hard time understanding how our government can justify spending 5.6 million dollars in taxpayer money on yet another over-the-top celebration when there are so many Canadians living in poverty. 

We have First Nation communities in Northwestern Canada where there are people experiencing a severe health crisis. These people are living in third-world conditions in our own backyard. They don’t have access to clean water or food, and their homes are without heat and barely standing. Many young Aboriginal children are turning to drugs and crime because there are no jobs, and education isn’t an option. Public Safety Canada states that Aboriginal youth are more vulnerable to gang recruitment than non-Aboriginal youth because they come from great inequality and social disadvantage. There are over 4,000 unsolved cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, which have been neglected by the authorities. Taxpayer dollars could have gone towards improving the lives of so many of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples, who’ve been marginalized in our society for–you guessed it–150 years. 

What about Canada’s opioid crisis? Yesterday, the Ottawa Citizen released an article stating that Canada’s health minister has declared an opioid emergency, as death rates spiked this past summer. Canadians are dying.

Our government has chosen to spend another 5.6 million dollars on a temporary outdoor rink on Parliament Hill, when we have Canada’s longest skating rink, the Rideau Canal, a block down the street. There’s another public outdoor skating rink that returns every year at City Hall. Not to mention, bigger fish to fry here people. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not entirely proud of the decisions our government chose to make with our money in 2017. We can only hope that in 2018, our tax dollars go towards righting our wrongs. The leaders of this country need to focus their attention, as well as taxpayer dollars on our many current issues of social injustice.  

Face palm, Canada. 


Alexa Scott is a Carleton University Graduate currently in second year of the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College. When she's not in class, she can be found watching Law & Order and perfecting her guacamole recipe. She also loves to spend time at the park with her best friend, a mini Goldendoodle named Maple.