Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
No place for the state in the calendars of the nation
In the song Sunday Morning Sidewalk by Kris Kristofferson, he sings:
On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
'Cos there's something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there's nothin' short of dyin',
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin' city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin' comin' down.
He could have been describing the weariness of a Winnipeg Sunday. This city prides itself on being one of the most -- if not the most -- multicultural cities in Canada, yet it regulates its life as if it were completely white and Christian. On Sundays, shopping is restricted, drinking is restricted. It is expected -- after church, one presumes -- that the kids will stay home and watch wholesome family cartoons on TV while Mom and Dad either argue about finances or breed more babies. What a great institution marriage is.
But Sunday is only a sacred day to Christians. For Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, pagans and heathens of all stripes, who comprise quite a lot of Winnipeggers, it is just another day. Every religion, probably every person, has their own special day and, in a multicultural society, it seems odd that Sundays should be singled out as something special.
The Manitoba government, in its budget brought down this week, proposes to do something about that, which is a good idea. It is, however, a very modest proposal. In fact, it is not much of a proposal at all. It is more of a poll, since the NDP government of Premier Greg Selinger plans to ask just about everyone interested -- except, perhaps, for the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and pagans and heathens of all stripes -- what they think about the idea.
They particularly intend to ask their supporters in the trade-union movement for their opinions, and we already know what the unions think -- in the socialist mindset, Sundays are days for families to spend together, watching family-friendly cartoons, arguing about family finances or breeding more babies. The trade union is another great institution.
So this really is more of a poll than a proposal. Will it wash with the electorate majority? That's exactly the wrong question. On this week's 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the right question for the Manitoba government and all governments in Canada is: What business do you have trying to control the calendars of our society?
Governments have no business in doing that, although that doesn't stop them from it. In a truly multicultural Canada -- in a truly free society -- people would be free to go about their lives as they please, without cultural, religious or social restrictions.
Freedoms are rights, not treats doled out by indulgent governments. If you want to buy a beer on a Sunday morning, if you want to open your grocery store late on a Sunday night, that's really between the barkeep, the store owner and the employees. The government has no place here. But until government figures that out, there will always be something in a Winnipeg Sunday that makes a body feel alone.
...by Tom Oleson
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2012 j2
(1 of 23 articles for this week)