A black and white photo of Edmonton’s Labour Day Parade moves along Jasper Avenue in 1910.
Edmonton’s Labour Day Parade moves along Jasper Avenue in 1910. Credit: Peel's Prarie Postcards / University of Alberta Library Credit: Peel's Prarie Postcards / University of Alberta Library

Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party (UCP) are trying to cancel our Labour Day weekend.

That’s why they’ve invented the bogus “Alberta Day” non-holiday – the perfect neoliberal celebration: no time off, no overtime pay for holiday work, and no family time, just more badly paid work and more opportunities to shop for cheap foreign-made trinkets.

The timing of the day Alberta became a province in 1905 – on Sept. 1 – was convenient for the UCP’s plot to use the fake Alberta Day announced by Mr. Kenney during the Calgary Stampede to supplant the traditional Labour Day weekend. 

This means that so-called Alberta Day (the same as any other day) will always fall close to or even on the same weekend as Labour Day (a statutory holiday for all Canadians). 

Indeed, in 2025, “Alberta Day” and Labour Day will fall on the same day – Sept. 1.

I can almost imagine Mr. Kenney cackling as he was cooking up this brainstorm about what fun it would be to put out a press release on Sept. 1, 2025, celebrating “Alberta Day” and not even mentioning Labour Day. 

God forbid in the neoliberal dystopia the UCP would like to create that we have an official holiday that celebrates not just honest labour, but the right and successes of working people to bargain collectively for better pay, workplace rights, respectful treatment, due process, pensions, benefits, overtime pay, and, yes, weekends.

If it hadn’t been for the coincidence of the day Alberta became a province, they probably would have tried to change the name to “Entrepreneur’s Day,” or, maybe, “Kenney Day.” (Than again, maybe not Kenney Day. According to the people now taking over the UCP, he’s way too woke.) 

Trust me when I say that big business, big oil, big fast food, and their Conservative friends in Alberta’s Legislature are “woke” to the dangers of reminding working people about what they have won for themselves and their co-workers through collective action, and therefore why now is no time to stop fighting for a better, fairer society for all.

As an aside, most readers of this blog will already have noticed that according to the Usual Suspects on the Alberta right, now is always the wrong time to fight for a better world. 

Once Mr. Kenney’s War on Labour Day moves to the next stage and the Labour Day weekend is always referred to by the government as the “Alberta Day weekend,” our reeducation will have begun. We will be using the UCP’s politically correct, ideologically motivated, Kenney Curriculum for adults. 

What do you want to bet that soon we’ll be told we ought never to say “Labour Day” for fear of offending some oversensitive “entrepreneur” snowflake. 

It won’t be long after that, mark my words, they’ll be using the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act to ban traditional Labour Day parades in Edmonton and Calgary. You know – just too upsetting. Plus, they interfere with traffic. 

That might be found be unconstitutional, of course, but that’s not going to trouble Mr. Kenney’s immediate successor, whomever she may be, since the UCP is in the process of trying to give itself the right to ignore the courts and the constitution whenever it suits them.

We know what Danielle Smith will so, of course. 

I’m sure she’d love to make it illegal even to say, “Happy Labour Day”!

I’m sure she’d like to ban Labour Day music, too – no more Solidarity Forever, no more The Workers’ Flag is Scarlet Red! And Billy Bragg? Forget about him! Take this Job and Shove it? Illegal! (Although, to be fair, nobody knows the words to Solidarity Forever, any more anyway, or it would be illegal already. Too Marxist!

But here’s the really big question: What will Premier Rachel Notley say on Sept. 1, 2025? 

Jason Kenney’s War on Labour Day must end!

NOTE: I wrote this as a satire. But when I re-read the draft last night, it didn’t sound all that satirical. But what the heck? I thought I’d publish it as I wrote it anyway, because … it actually isn’t satire, probably. This year, Labour Day will fall on Sept. 5, so it’s relatively safe. DJC

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...