Calgary councilor calls fireworks “colonialist and racist”
Canada Day used to be a day of celebration, but now it’s about recognizing shame.

Mike Campbell

May 25, 2023

Calgary city councilor Kourtney Penner said having a fireworks show on Canada Day would be “upholding colonialism and racism.” 

Calgary councilor calls fireworks “colonialist and racist”

The city announced last week that it would finish off Canada Day with a pyrotechnic show in place of what’s normally a massive fireworks show.

Several calls to overturn the decision have been made including a petition that has amassed thousands of votes. 

The Ward 11 councilor Penner subsequently lashed out at Calgarians who are proud to be Canadians and celebrate Canada Day with fireworks. 

“Council didn’t make this decision and if we were to reverse it, it would do nothing more than discredit the voices who asked for a different kind of celebration. Reversing this decision would be upholding colonialism and racism,” she said.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek defended the decision to scrap the fireworks

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek also defended the city’s decision to scrap fireworks from this year’s Canada Day celebration, which includes $100,000 fines for Calgarians who set off their own without a permit.   

“I would encourage everyone to get to know a little bit more about what the celebration is about,” Gondek said in defending the decision to scrap the fireworks.

Gondek also asked Calgarians “to recognize the fact that it’s the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act and there’s Truth and Reconciliation commitments.”

Setting off fireworks risks a $100,000 fine

According to the city’s website, first-time offenders who set off fireworks without a permit are punishable by “Fines up to $100,000 and up to $1,000 for each day where the offence continues and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months.”

The city manager of arts and culture, Franca Gualtieri, who made the decision,

said it was done in light of cultural sensitivities, community, and environmental concerns.

Outrage over the committee’s decision to scrap the fireworks show — and implement the pyrotechnic “pilot project” has spread far and wide. Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner chastised the decision earlier this week. 

“When our leaders make this choice a binary one, that as a people we can only do one at the expense of the other, we further divide our country instead of solving its problems,” Garner said.

She added, “Suggesting that Canada Day shouldn’t be a day for celebration does just that, and I won’t allow my community to be pushed into that corner.”

On Wednesday, the city of Toronto also canceled planned Canada Day celebrations in Nathan Philips Square due to “resource constraints.” 

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