Today marks the final day of the Calgary Stampede for another year. I thought I might reflect a bit on my own experiences and pass along some cogitations. This year I had the fortune of attending the Calgary Stampede, and, more importantly, the Big Grandstand Show. Reputed to be the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, it lived up to its reputation in many ways… but in many ways it did not. There were singers, dancers and elaborate stage constructions (including an enormous moving locomotive that rolled forward towards the audience like an outtake from a Lumière Brothers film ). There were feats of strength, more dancing, fireworks that were remindful of an AGM-114 Hellfire air to surface missile strike, and even a lounge singer styled emcee rivalling Richard Cheese. Well… maybe not quite. All told, it was quite the spectacle. It was loud and brash and very over the top western-styled entertainment. I found myself titillated and drawn in by the visual abundance of the show.
The theme for the evening was simply “Canada”. Let’s celebrate Canada, and all that this implies. I suppose this made some sense since Canada Day occurred just before Stampede. And, of course, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the National Flag of Canada  (I was not overly happy about this point.) And so, for the next couple of hours, each successive act struggled to define uniquely Canadian attributes. And struggle was the key word here. As we have often discussed here on RWN, defining Canada is no easy task, most especially when using banal cultural clichés and nonsensical campy singsong.
An example of this occurred when they started singing about the letters that made up C-A-N-A-D-A, like some Sesame Street learning game (I’m not joking about this actually). “C” is for Canada, that’s good enough for me. Inevitably, by the end, the show had completely shifted focus and had begun peddling the inevitable liberal tripe: Canada’s benevolence, its acceptance and tolerance, its affinity for immigration. There were moments later in the show when I had to literally cover my face with my hands in rage.
To set the tone, it all began with a pre-recorded comedy sketch by none other than last year’s Parade Grand Marshal  William Shatner. It was a short film produced by the National Film Board for the Grandstand Show and was presented on the big screens. The Shat was featured doing a parody of his own ‘singing’ style, which, as we all know, consists of spoken words with odd emphasis, punctuated by dramatic pauses for flair. He was assigned the task of singing “Oh Canada” and launched right in, speaking the words in his usual sardonic manner .
The comedy started when the disgruntled producer (clearly unfamiliar with Shatner’s antics) interrupts and starts trying to force Shatner to actually sing the lyrics. I smiled and leaned in for more. Yet, what began as funny and interesting quickly became derailed and went off on a stupid socialist tangent. This was to become an ongoing theme throughout the remainder of the show, unfortunately. Shatner began analyzing the words to the national anthem and reinterpreting them. He fumbled with the first verse and came up with “our home on native land”. Uhh ohhh…
Shatner looked closer at the lyrics and mumbled that they’re “confusing and outdated”. Suddenly it became clear what was about to happen: this was some kind of commentary on Canada’s ‘diversity’ and a play on words to sate the NDP voting spectators all around me. My smile faded as he began to “spruce up” the song. He recommenced with his ‘improved’ piece:
Oh Canada (cheer up!), our home on native land, true patriot love (of same sex partnerships), in all our son’s command (and, our daughters). With glowing hearts (like E.T.) we see thee rise, our true north strong and free (free health care), from far and wide (redundant) Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep (all Gods… or no Gods) our land, glorious and free (free of smog), Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee, Oh Canada, we stand on guard (guard yourself against frostbite) for thee. 
People around me erupted with hysterical laughter and cheering. By this point I was sitting stonily in my seat with a sneer stretched across my face. Didn’t people remember when fatty comedian Roseanne Bar tried to pull a similar stunt with the Canadian National Anthem on July 26th 1990 to a chorus boo?  I felt like there was no difference save for the fact that that this rendition was choreographed (and that Shatner is usually funny). I decided to try and move on and not let this spoil the show, but it was pretty hard with what was yet to come.
Our Richard Cheese styled host (having floated aboard a steel bridge to the stage) then directed us to the real national anthem, which, to my great satisfaction, was well sung in both English and French (and not mutilated.) A helicopter passed over with the Maple Leaf in tow, a nice touch. I tried to ignore the beaded & feathered Indian stereotypes standing with Bonhomme the snowman and RCMP officers on stage. Strangely, our goggle-eyed clown act of a mayor was nowhere to be seen on stage (and, incredibly, never made an appearance for the remainder of the show.) Things seemed to be looking up.
But then things began to slowly degrade into clichés and the usual tired, formulaic approach to Canadian culture I mentioned above. Canadian’s are known for a great many things, the show reinforced again, and got right to it. What are some things that Canada is known for? The more tawdry the better, it seemed. There was bacon, doughnuts… and using the word ‘eh?’ They got around to all of this, I can assure you.
They proceeded to pull out all the stops with this show, as I imagine they do every year. There was a feature on the Northern Lights, a piece on the Hockey Night in Canada Song and a dance conducted by the Alberta Ballet (this was quite something.) They touched on great Canadian musicians such as Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Justin Bieber, Jerry Lee Lewis (!?) and Celine Dion (in each case finding one of their own vocalists to try and emulate a selection from the original singer’s famed repertoire.) I enjoyed the rendition of Anne Murray’s “Could I Have This Dance”, having never heard it before. I grew up listening to Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot, but I had the impression, based on the blank faces of the audience members around me, that few had ever heard of them.
The show then started to once more alternate styles and escalate in tempo, presumably to distract the audience from the fact that none of the Canadiana being portrayed was really all that significant. “What else is Canadian?” asked the emcee with a desperate look on his face. Well, there’s Alexander Graham Bell’s invention, the telephone. And let’s not forget James Naismith’s invention, Basket Ball. Naismith, they explained, invented the sport in 1891, using nothing more than peach baskets and a ‘big soft soccer ball’ before writing the official 13 basic rules to the sport. 
And with no further explanation or adieu a troupe of gymnasts stormed the stage. Two small trampolines were wheeled in and a ‘slam dunk’ show commenced at breakneck speed. Again, I’m not joking here. Like something from the NBA All Star Weekend, the team of gymnasts began to demonstrate how to deposit a basketball into a net after bouncing from a springboard. With flips, twirls, passes and hangs, the troupe demonstrated every possible method of slamming the ball known to the Harlem Globe Trotters. One gymnast even ended up sitting in the net, to great audience delight. The only thing noticeably absent from the show was dribbling, shooting from the ground or any of the fundamentals of the game except slamming the ball. “Naismith wouldn’t recognize his own damned game”, I grumbled to myself. People started giving me irritated sidewise looks. The faux basketball players hurried away with their trampolines into the dark. “Get the hell outta here”, I whispered to myself, earning me a ‘shush’ from somewhere in the audience.
Another act immediately marched in and replaced them: an ersatz corpse of RCMP officers composed of dancers complete with horse appendages from the waist down. The Red Serge, perhaps the most identifiable of Canadian icons, seemed a solid choice for the choreographers, and beyond reproach. Over the years we’ve all learned that the RCMP, in their Sam Browne Belts, yellow striped Jodhpurs, bright red tunics and brown riding boots are truly great Canadian heroes (through watching reruns of Dudley Do-Right and Due South, mostly.) Sadly, I think to myself, the Red Serge uniform is only used for ‘Full Dress’ Ceremonies, not in the course of an RCMP officer’s normal duties. Now relegated to civic functions, weddings, funerals and musical rides, the Red Serge is virtually never seen in public anymore. Wait, did I say musical ride?
The corpse of 32 RCMP cavalry (wearing stuffed horses as I mentioned), began the complex preliminary techniques for the Musical Ride, lining up on two sides of the stage as the music cracked and boomed. What followed was so absurd I was forced to laugh aloud. The actors commenced with the full and complete Musical Ride on their reproduction stallions, weaving about on stage in complex patterns. The officers prancing about the stage inside their fake horses looked silly beyond belief, yet somehow still managed to be impressive. They took a great Canadian tradition, gave it a humourous twist, and came up with something fresh, complex and visually interesting. The group did some more romping around the stage and then headed for the wings. I found myself wearing a smile on my face and felt impressed.
The big screens then once again flashed to life and a montage began to unfold. Something to do with Canadian immigration and the swearing in ceremony. Canada takes in a great many new citizens every year and is a sanctuary to refugees and people seeking a new life apparently. Without knowing why I felt a cloud forming above my head. The screens showed us a group shot of the most recent immigrants to have undergone the Oath of Canadian Citizenship. I took a quick scan of the featured group and was unsurprised to see that virtually all appeared to be from third world countries. I think I might have counted one, maybe two European looking faces in the throng. A great many were elderly, and several among the group looked to be ill. Many appeared to be bewildered and a few wore sycophantic leers. The show then cut to an Asian family from somewhere impoverished, a couple with their two children.
The narrator explained that this family had struggled to complete their standard testing, submit their application and had successfully learned English. This family had the right stuff and were to be granted citizenship, we were informed. But the best part of all, the narrator explained, was that they would undergo their swearing in tonight, right before our eyes. We were to bear witness to their oaths, these future Canadians. They were waiting in the wings and would pledge fealty to the Queen before a specially prearranged citizenship Judge. Suddenly it all became clear what was going on. Another appeal for the acceptance of multiculturalism. Another liberal ploy to evoke empathy and fuzzy feelings in the masses. Yet another dog and pony act to try and justify the bloated C.I.C. and the out of control immigration going on in Canada. “Jesus Christ!!”, I growled from between clenched teeth.
And on strode the participants to the stage. The Asian family, looking suitably submissive and alarmed, was followed by several RCMP officers and the Judge, bedecked in his black robes and white bib. Also present were several other delegates of Immigration Canada and a handful of other officials. Bonhomme was probably hiding somewhere in the congregation, I’m sure. The swearing in began after a pause just as everyone came to position and stood at attention. After some rambling and introductions, the presiding Judge solemnly asked “what language do you prefer to speak during the ceremony?”
“Ingrish”, was the response of the parents (to considerable audience enchantment.)
The questions began, and the oath was recited. From this point onward the ‘English’ used became completely unintelligible.
That I will be faithful
And bear true allegiance
To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second
Queen of Canada
Her Heirs and Successors
And that I will faithfully observe
The laws of Canada
And fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen. 
Practically none of the oath could be discerned due to the extreme language barrier. When the four participants had finished defiling the Oath, the presiding Judge made a proclamation declaring the family to ‘officially be Canadian Citizens.’ And the crowd went wild. I saw standing ovations in many sections, people applauding furiously and more than a few spectators in tears.
Just look at them, I thought to myself, seething with rage. Clapping like well-trained seals; the Joe six-packs and Sally Soccer Mom’s all nodding and smiling and applauding. Soft and tolerant and conditioned to accept any outrage, any propaganda set before them, the people stood and clapped. The show effectively ended for me at this point, I wasn’t under any illusions and knew full well just what had just happened. I neither clapped nor stood. Instead I sat holding my head in my hands.
It wasn’t really about the family at all, you see. It was actually about continuing to redefine Canada as benevolent, gracious and, above all, accepting of everything and everyone. The Swearing in Ceremony was really about thrusting false Canadian ideals in the face of each audience member while calling it something else. I had nothing against the immigrant family personally, as they were merely doing what anyone from a third world hell hole might when presented the opportunity. Rather, I was angry that our runaway government, ever expanding and self-indulgent, well aware that immigrants cost the nation financially while contributing little or nothing to the economy, was still effectively advertising mass immigration to the fools.
And yet our government presents few statistics detailing its handiwork and seems to work at playing upon people’s emotions in efforts to keep the floodgates open. Our government makes it seem like Canada has boundless capacity for absorbing and supporting new residents. Big Government has made an industry of bringing unskilled, culturally alien immigrants into Canada at an unsustainable rate. The immigrants in turn sponsor their entire families and the people just keep pouring in. Our failing welfare state and health care system becomes ever less capable of carrying the weight. And yet the weak-headed cultural relativists just keep on clapping, smiling, standing and weeping.
The Grandstand Show director, Brian Foley, called the Canadian Oath feature “a salute to citizenship in Canada” . “Nothing could be more classic than immigrants taking their Canadian citizenship oath… as the Haque family from Bangladesh did to roaring applause”, babbled the Calgary Sun. 
But I can think of something more ‘classic’ and a far more fitting ‘salute to Canada’. How about the preservation of what little Canadian culture remains by way of the complete dismantling of the immigration system and its infrastructure? Let’s stop the farce from being perpetuated and call a spade a spade. Canada must realize that a laissez-faire, altruism-fueled immigration system makes a welcome mat of our flag and a grease-smeared shabby rag of our country.