Christy Clark instates Family Day in BC
// Katie Shore

For some British Columbians, it seems like we can’t get a break when it comes to our premiers: Gordon Campbell still brings to mind the infamous drunk driving mug shot taken in Hawaii, and the taste of the hated HST is lingering. Now, we have Christy Clark, who is trying to be the “family premier.” However, she is also trying to have the playoff riot trials televised, and has postponed the provincial elections, arguably to her advantage. She appears to be proving herself to be, however family-oriented, just another politician.

Part of Clark's original platform when she was running for premier was to instate Family Day, a new statutory holiday which would fall in late February of every year. Spearheading the “Families First Initiative,” a program which focuses on family values and programs that benefit parents and children alike, the first Family Day will take place in February of 2013. The new holiday precedes the next provincial election date in May 2013 by just a few months, suggesting that it is a shrewd political move and not just a break for British Columbians.

Clark claims that Family Day will put families first, and also provide a much needed winter break for British Columbians. Additionally, she believes that it may boost tourism … somehow. It goes without saying that Clark wants Family Day because it makes her look good. Who wouldn't want to elect someone who gives them a day off school or work for essentially lounging around the house with your family? However, we don't need a new statutory holiday. Excluding Boxing Day, most of the holidays serve some sort of celebratory purpose, and are already traditionally spent with family. While families may take advantage of Family Day for bonding purposes, the majority who are past the point of living with family and those who may live far away from nearest and dearest are left with a day that could be spent more productively.

Clark’s campaign was rich with stories of her close connections with her parents and how she defines herself as the typical “soccer mom” with political aspirations. However, according to Statcan, the census family that she describes, complete with parents and children, makes up only around 69 per cent of people in British Columbia. That’s 31 per cent of people who aren’t our premier’s first priority.

“I don't mind the prospect of a new statutory holiday. I don't have to go to school and I get paid more if I choose to go to work,” says Capilano University student Mack McCorkindale. “However, at the end of the day, it seems a bit pointless.” The majority of students questioned seemed to have similar sentiments. This cheesy new day of celebration provides them with no downfalls at the current time. Why shouldn't they support Clark and Family Day?

However, there are some people who have stronger opinions opposing Family Day. “Frankly, I'm a bit offended that she wants to create a new holiday that promotes families. I find it demeaning to those of us who aren't a part of the nuclear family that she is trying to promote,” says Sarah Sadeghieh, a current BCIT student. “While I think that family issues are important, I don't think that supporting families more than people in other kinds of living situations should be brought into politics.”

Family Day will also cost small businesses. One source reports each small business will lose over $1000 in revenue due to the inauguration of a new holiday. While this may seem like cheap change to a bigger business, it can damage a small business greatly. “That doesn’t factor in the cost of lost sales or the business owner’s own labour costs; for instance, are they even paying themselves that day?” Shachi Kurl, CFIB director of provincial affairs told the Vancouver Sun. “Bottom line – Family Day will be hard on family businesses.”

Perhaps Clark’s motives aren’t so terrible after all. Family Day isn't anything new to Canada: first recognized in Alberta in 1990, Family Day has spread to both Saskatchewan and Ontario. Prince Edward Island and Manitoba celebrate holidays on the same day, called Islanders Day and Louis Riel Day respectively. In this, it could be suggested that Clark is simply trying to fit in with other parts of Canada and increase British Columbians' sense of national identity.

With her chipper attitude and bias toward families, Christy Clark has managed to leave a sour taste in the mouths of many British Columbians. It is possible that this Family Day is a political move to make herself seem re-electable. In any case, Clark's proclamation of a new holiday has resulted in a resounding “meh.” Nobody will say no to a day off work, but Family Day seems to be a title for a day that should be able to be “celebrated” properly by any British Columbian.

// Katie Shore, Writer
// Illustration by Stefan Tosheff

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com