King Charles would approve of Food Day Canada

Last updated on May 11, 23

Posted on May 11, 23

2 min read

If the King of England himself still approved Canadian laws, he’d surely delight at giving the royal nod to Bill S-227, An Act to Establish Food Day in Canada.

The bill, led by Senator Rob Black of Fergus, was passed in Parliament on Monday. It designates the Monday of the Civic Holiday (the first weekend in August) Food Day in Canada, an initiative created two decades ago by the late Canadian food activist Anita Stewart of Elora.

At press time, the Bill still needed what’s called Royal Asset, a ceremonial approval that takes place in the Senate. But by the time a bill gets to this point, no one stands in its way – not another parliamentarian, not the Governor General, not even a King. Approval was expected to occur before the week’s end.

And rightly so. Long before he was a senator, Black, like the rest of us, watched Stewart masterfully induce a sense of national pride in our agri-food sector. In 2003, she almost single-handedly created Food Day’s predecessor, The World’s Longest BBQ. It was designed to help beleaguered beef producers across the country, who were in dire straits because a case of BSE in Alberta had halted Canadian beef exports.

She chose the long weekend in August to invite Canadians to support beef farmers by grilling their favourite cuts and inviting others to do the same. The export situation was bad and beef producers were losing their shirts.

So, said Stewart, let’s support farmers domestically. Have a party. Celebrate our amazing Canadian cuisine. She broadened the idea into Food Day Canada as the years passed. Pick your protein, pick your carbs, pick your beverages, just keep it Canadian, she implored. We did.

When Stewart died in 2020, the wheels were well in motion for a national food holiday. During the nearly three years that followed, Senator Black campaigned rigorously for Bill S-227. He stood his ground when others tried to hijack the event and change the date for their own self-interests. Most lately, he and others – particularly John Nater, Member of Parliament for Perth-Wellington and sponsor of the bill in the House of Commons – worked to have the bill in place before Food Day Canada’s 20th anniversary.

Ultimately, parliamentarians of all stripes, from both the Senate and the House, supported the effort.

“This event will give Canadians an opportunity to thank the farmers who put food on our tables, every summer for years to come,” said Black.

Back to King Charles. If he wants to score points with Canadians, he too could celebrate Food Day Canada. What a glorious, non-partisan occasion to visit the country, at an absolutely fantastic time of the year.

And let’s remember the King has long called himself a farmer. Coming here, he could show support for other farmers, in a country on the bubble about the monarchy. He could approvingly gush about how far we’ve come since becoming a nation in 1867. And every word of praise that left his mouth would resonate throughout the world.

Somewhere, Anita Stewart must be beaming ear to ear.

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Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts is the Guelph-based Past-President of International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, and the Director, Agricultural Communications Program at the University of Illinois.