Pulse of Canada

Pulse of Canada: Should Remembrance Day be a statutory holiday across Canada?

Today is Remembrance Day — but it's not a statutory holiday across Canada. Should Remembrance Day be a statutory holiday for everyone?

Our panel tackles this question on Pulse of Canada.

Thomas Bink: Absolutely! I'm always in favour of another day off. And if we can tie it to a worthy event like Remembrance Day, all the better. I'm pretty sure I'd be more inclined to remember and honour our fallen heroes if I'm given a day off. Otherwise, it's just another work day — spend two minutes listening to bagpipes and then back to the grind. It doesn't do the day any justice and it doesn't make me any more patriotic. We get a day to recognize Queen Victoria, why not our soldiers? Remembrance Day should be a mandatory day off across Canada. Period.

Matthew Coutts: Remembrance Day should absolutely be a statutory holiday. What it represents deserves the honour and acknowledgement of every Canadian, and the best way to ensure that is to elevate it to the same stage as Christmas and Canada Day. My only concern is this: Labour Day. I only vaguely know what that is. Whatever it once stood for, now Labour Day is just a day off to go fishing. Remembrance Day can't become another Labour Day. The day off should be used to remember those who fought and died in the line of duty.

Andy Radia: No, Remembrance Day should not be a national statutory holiday. I live in British Columbia where November 11 is actually a provincially-mandated day off.  And, I am one of those people who do go to the local cenotaph every year to honour our veterans.  But I have a lot of friends and family who don't. Instead, they use the day to sleep-in, to shop, or go skiing: war becomes the furthest thing from their minds. Matt says Labour Day has become just another day for him to go fishing.  The unfortunate reality is that the same thing happens on Remembrance Day in B.C.

Bink: I suppose I could see that happening. Part of my issue is that there is no consistency across Canada in terms of how the day is observed. Andy, you get the day off, as do banks and government services across Canada. But we regular schmoes in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba don't. If Remembrance Day is important to Canadians and the federal government encourages us to observe it, then they should step in and make it fair one way or the other — either we all get the day off or we all don't. Soldiers fought for the maple leaf, not for Alberta, B.C. or Nova Scotia. All Americans get Memorial Day off … so should we.

Coutts: I think you hit the nail on the head, Tom. The federal government encourages the entire country to observe Remembrance Day; we should all be given the same opportunity to do that. Memorial services are held in every town and city across the country, and the national ceremony in Ottawa is aired in full on television. There is no reason every single Canadian couldn't participate in some way.

Radia: Nonsense. This isn't a national fairness issue. Provinces should be allowed to choose whether or not they want this day to be a stat day. And, I think, the dissenting provinces should stay the way they are. It's interesting to note that last year the Royal Canadian Legion in Ontario said that they do not want Remembrance Day to be a national holiday. They want kids in school on that day to learn about Canada's war heroes or to go on a field trip to the cenotaph or legion.  How great would that be. And Matt, any employer worth their salt would give their employees 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. off on November 11. I'm sure 'Mr. Yahoo!' would do the same for you.

Bink: It's not what I'm asking for, but it's the very least we — and every employer — should do.

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments area below.