Political correctness has seen a simple “Merry Christmas” come under attack in vast swaths of Canadian society, though it remains a staple on the transit system in Regina. Photo by Mickey Conlon

Public transit campaign aims for a ‘Merry Christmas’

  • December 26, 2017
You can have all the happy holidays you want, but for Rudy Fernandes, it will always be a Merry Christmas.

Fernandes, along with his wife Maureen, has for the past five years been on a Yuletide crusade against political correctness that has seen the words “Happy Holidays” replace “Merry Christmas” in vast sectors of Canadian society.

He has been writing to politicians and corporate leaders urging they forsake political correctness by keeping Christ at the centre of the season.

It began as a personal quest, but has grown and been embraced by some 300 people who have lent their support to the campaign, he said.

“We’re not afraid to take on an issue when we’re right,” said Fernandes. “We’re going down the wrong path. We believe that it’s important to maintain the Christian character (of Christmas). And it’s a simple thing. There should be no question about this.”

The campaign, which has been embraced by the Canadian Goan Christian Group of which Fernandes is a member, is mostly aimed at politicians in the Greater Toronto Area, though key corporate leaders are also targeted. Banks, as well as companies like Loblaw, Canadian Tire and Hudson’s Bay have been contacted and, Fernandes says, “responded postively.”

For years, Fernandes had watched as Christian traditions surrounding the celebration of Christmas were slowly being phased out as secularization took a greater stranglehold on modern Canadian society. Happy Holidays, the Holiday tree as opposed to the Christmas tree … it all became too much for him.

In his letter, Fernandes points out the facts: fully two-thirds of Canadians are Christian (39 per cent Catholic, 28 per cent Protestant) and, according to an Abacus Data poll, 92 per cent of Canadians celebrate Christmas and for 72 per cent of them, Merry Christmas is the preferred expression.

“We must be frank … we have taken a back seat” as Christians, he said. “The small community has a bigger voice than we do.”

It’s been a case, so to speak, of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

“It is only political correctness that is driving this,” he said. “A very small minority is vocal.”

And it’s a minority that is targeting only the Christian tradition.

“It’s OK to say ‘Happy Eid,’ it’s okay to say ‘Happy Diwali.’ But why is it not OK to say Merry Christmas? How is it we can be politically correct when it comes to Christmas?”

Fernandes is clear that it is not the voices of other faiths that have piled on the Christian tradition. It is the atheist voice, and atheists, he said, only make up three per cent of the Canadian population.

“Nobody complains. It’s something (from) people who are overtly atheist, not other religions,” he said.

Fernandes’ campaign has met with some success. He shared numerous replies from 600 politicians and other leaders he has contacted and the vast majority agree with him.

Among comments received (Fernandes asked that none of the people be identified for confidentiality purposes) were: “Yes, my wife and I agree: Merry Christmas”; “I always wish my friends, family and constituents a Merry Christmas because that’s what it is for me”, and “I am a Merry Christmas guy.”

Others straddled the fence: “I have always said Merry Christmas. I usually add ‘and happy holidays’ since it is a time when many people tie in family holidays.”

Even from those who don’t agree, he has not experienced any hostility.

He noted one prominent Mississauga councillor said she couldn’t refrain from saying Happy Holidays but was quite gracious in explaining her viewpoint. “And I don’t mind that,” he said.

The message seems to be getting out, slowly. You can see it to a degree in advertising, where more traditional Christmas carols are used in TV commercials. U.S.

President Donald Trump made a show of delivering a “Merry Christmas” at the tree lighting at the White House, saying he had been waiting a long time to utter those words.

“More and more people are realizing we have been too quiet on the matter,” said Fernandes.

“We’re not asking for major concessions, we’re just talking about what needs to be done. It is not offensive. Christ is the reason for the season.”

(Conlon is a writer in Regina.)

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