VIDEO: Canada celebrates 152nd birthday with fireworks and flybys

Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds among high-profile celebrities at Parliament Hill party

Canadian flags on the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council as tourists take photos on Parliament Hill before Canada Day, in Ottawa on Thursday, June 27, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a campaign-style speech focused on his Liberal government’s successes over the last four years as he delivered his Canada Day remarks on Parliament Hill on the country’s 152nd birthday.

Speaking to a jovial crowd clad in red and white gathered under a hot sun, Trudeau reminded the assembled masses about last year, when he skipped the festivities in the nation’s capital and instead visited communities impacted by steel and aluminum tariffs that had been imposed as part of a trade dispute with the United States.

In those communities, Trudeau said he saw people helping and supporting one another — a key Canadian quality to celebrate, he said.

But he also dropped a not-so-subtle reminder of how his government was able to renegotiate a new free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, and eventually got the U.S. tariffs lifted.

“We put up a united front, we leaned on each other, we had each other’s backs and we didn’t get pushed around,” Trudeau said.

He also highlighted some rosy numbers sure to be regularly touted in the upcoming election campaign: the number of jobs created since his Liberals took office in 2015 — one million; the number of long-term boil-water advisories lifted since 2015 — 85; and the number of kids who have been lifted out of poverty — nearly 300,000.

His support for diversity was also a focal point of his remarks, saying he is proud to be part of a country that values multiculturalism while also looking to the future to meet what he called “the great challenges of our times” — climate change, reconciliation and gender equality.

“As a country, it’s important that we celebrate our accomplishments, that we take pride in how far we’ve come. But we can’t forget that Canada did not happen by accident and won’t continue without effort and hard work. We can and we must continue to make our country even better,” he said.

“I have no doubt that together, we can continue to build a country we can all be proud to call home.”

Trudeau wasn’t the only high-profile Canadian at Ottawa’s celebration, which Ottawa police said swelled to approximately 16,000. In addition to Governor General Julie Payette and a smattering of cabinet ministers, actor Ryan Reynolds watched the festivities from the VIP section on Parliament Hill.

And astronaut David Saint-Jacques, freshly back from a stint in space, made a surprise video appearance from a hospital in Houston, TX., where he’s recovering from his trip back to earth.

QUIZ: How much do you really know about Canada?

In rainy Halifax, meanwhile, the occasion was marked with a 21-gun salute on Citadel Hill, sending the sound of cannon blasts echoing through the sky like thunder.

Jihan Estrella was happy to be in Halifax for the holiday after immigrating to Canada from the Philippines just a month ago.

“Even if we don’t know anybody, we talk to people at church and they help us with what we need. I think that’s something Canada has that we’re very fortunate to have experienced,” she said.

Torontonians had their pick of celebrations like the annual Yonge-Dundas Multiculturalism party, which celebrated the country’s diversity with jazz bands, a “Parade of Nations” and live performances from multicultural groups.

Terence Hampton Junior, 21, was visiting Toronto for the first time on a family vacation from Memphis, TN, when he found the Yonge-Dundas celebration. The differences between Toronto and his hometown, he said, are palpable.

“Going around in different places and just seeing all of these people of different colours and different races and backgrounds together and just enjoying each other’s presence, that’s something that’s really important I think that Canada symbolizes well,” said Hampton Junior.

Though the celebrations were little less grand than they were two years ago for the country’s sesquicentennial birthday, 2019 is an anniversary year of sorts: the 140th official holiday celebrating Confederation.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Nelson Leafs lose to Dynamiters 4-3 in overtime

The game got off to a bizarre start early in the first period

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Heart, minds, and 100 years of the Nelson library

Past and future collide this year at the Nelson library, and it all kicks off this weekend

Canada to bolster screening of central China passengers for virus at 3 airports

Additional measures will include messaging on arrivals screens in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Most Read