Since MP Geng Tan’s private motion was passed in the parliament on June 1, 2016, Chinese lunar new year, the spring festival has now been officially recognized by the Canadian government. But if you expect any significant changes in how the biggest Chinese traditional holiday was celebrated this year or any special event marking the exceptional recognition of the holiday, you might be disappointed.
On June 1, 2016, MP Geng Tan’s Spring Festival motion seeking the government of Canada to proclaim the first day of the lunar year as the beginning of 15-day Spring Festival was passed in the parliament. "This motion would bring together friends from Asia and Canada and makes Asian culture accessible to the local mainstream and minority communities," Tan said in a statement in his parliament speech. “Now that an important page in Asian-Canadian history has turned, we can really make a difference, something solid.”
Getting a private motion passed at the Parliament can bring a lot of excitement to a rookie MP, who was delighted to say that “he will never forget the exact moment”. However, it seems that Tan’s speech might have over exaggerated the influence of his private motion.
The official recognition did not seem to have made any “solid difference” in the celebration of the holiday in anyways. The motion was barely covered by the mainstream media and was unknown to most people in the local mainstream and other minority communities. Before this motion was passed, Canadian politicians had already been reaching out to the community in celebration of the holiday.
The Royal Canadian Mint also marked Chinese New Year with a new series of coins in the past, and Canada Post, like any previous years, issued special stamps in 2016 to welcome the new year. In 2013 PM Stephen Harper appeared at the gala events at Aberdeen Center and Richmond Hill for Chinese New Year celebration as a surprise guest. And in 2016, PM Trudeau attended dragon ball gala in Vancouver in celebration of the year of the Monkey. Many MPs, MPPs and city councillors frequently appeared in various Chinese New Year celebrations – from concerts, Peking opera performances to events and shows.
虽然春节动议得以通过，但今年的庆祝活动与往年并没有明显的差别。除了举行幸运红包和舞狮等具有中国传统特色的常规年度庆祝活动外，在包括谭耕的选区在内的各个选区的国会议员并没有举办任何特别活动。在谭耕代表的Don Valley North选区，也只是在2月5日于社区中心举行了三个小时的庆祝活动。据网上公布的活动介绍称，“期间将有少量文化表演，并会供应一些小点心。”
And there was nothing strikingly different in this year’s celebration -- after the motion was passed. MPs in different ridings – including Tan’s riding -- were not seen doing anything special, apart from holding some regular annual celebration featuring old Chinese tradition – such as lucky red pockets and lion dance. In Tan’s riding, Don Valley North, there was only a three-hour event to be held at a community center on Feb. 5. “There will be light culture performance and light refreshment available,” according to the description of the event posted on the internet.
In fact, only by establishing Chinese New Year as a statutory holiday can we make it more important in Canada. As a deep and long anticipated wish of people from all walks of life in the community, a statutory holiday would bring more joy and fun, allowing it to better connect and engage Canadians from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. But Tan’s motion failed to achieve the goal that many Chinese Canadians had desired.
“I am not sure what difference it has made to me or my family,” said Kevin Liu, a second generation of Chinese Canadian when told about Tan’s motion. “I still have to work till 5pm on Friday (the New Year Eve), and go back to office on Monday morning, despite the fact that my family carries on the Chinese tradition with two weeks’ long celebration.”
The motion, which would put taxpayers on the hook for its three months long parliament debate, vote and pass, lacks significant impact on Canada’s multiculturalism, and has not made any significant difference in recognizing Chinese cultural traditions in Canada. It would be a needless motion -- and a waste of taxpayers ‘s money -- if it fails to serve as a stepping stone to future parliament bill that designates Chinese New Year as a statutory holiday in Canada.
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