One big happy family

Former Alberta premier Don Getty was the political leader who got the ball rolling on Family Day back in 1990. - photo courtesy Alberta Government
Former Alberta premier Don Getty was the political leader who got the ball rolling on Family Day back in 1990.
— image credit: photo courtesy Alberta Government

British Columbians will celebrate Family Day on Monday, the first time we get to enjoy a statutory holiday in February. Like everything in this province, it’s not happening without a little bit of controversy.

The idea of giving people a break during the dank days of winter started in Alberta in 1990. Then-premier Don Getty felt it was important for all Albertans to take time with their families and emphasize the importance of family values. Though a swell idea, Getty did face considerable fire from employers who argued it would create a new financial burden and impact their bottom line.

It took more than 15 years until another province would wade into the controversial waters of creating new stat holiday. In 2006, Saskatchewan added Family Day to its calendar. Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island quickly followed suit.

The roots of BC’s Family Day political squabbles date back to 1994 when Liberal MLA Bob Chisholm proposed it. Opposed by the BC Chamber of Commerce and then-premier Gordon Campbell, a winter break in Supernatural BC never stood a chance.

When running for the Liberal leadership in 2011, Christy Clark added Family Day as a campaign plank. Once in Victoria’s big chair, our new premier acted quickly. And while workers celebrated, the business community responded with concern.

So here we are, set to take a break in mid-February. Though getting here wasn’t easy and many will still debate its merit, it’s time to embrace Family Day. Whether it’s a day at Whitewater, board games by a warm fire or a trip to see grandma, this new long-weekend shouldn’t be wasted.

While you’re getting together, don’t forget the Nelson Star contest (see Page 8 and 9 in today’s paper) that’s asking readers to document their time together.

Whatever your family make up, it’s certainly worth celebrating. Have a great weekend.



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