As part of the 150th birthday celebrations, New Brunswick is going with the theme ‘Celebrate where it all began’.
That seems to fly in the face of Charlottetown’s claim to being the birthplace of Confederation.
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee is not amused.
“I think it’s rather entertaining, quite honestly,’’ Lee said Monday. “Anybody who can read a history book knows that the birthplace of Confederation is Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.’’
The Guardian attempted to speak with New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant and the minister of tourism. Instead, Valerie Kilfoil, director of communications with the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture emailed this newspaper the reasons the province chose to lay claim to being the birthplace of Canada.
One of the big reasons she points to is that in 1863, New Brunswick’s Lt.-Gov. Arthur Hamilton Gordon pushed for Maritime Union, inviting his colleagues to Fredericton.
“Legislatures in New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia passed motions in favour in the spring of 1864, but they could not agree on a location and time to meet,’’ Kilfoil said in her email. “But the concept did help to spark the (1864) Charlottetown Conference and, eventually, Confederation.’’
Kilfoil adds that following the conference, further meetings were held in Halifax, Saint John and Fredericton.
Another reason – they also point to the 1866 election on the issue of Confederation with New Brunswickers voting in favour.
It didn’t stop there, they point to St-Croix being the first European settlement in Canada in 1604 and Saint John being the first incorporated city in Canada in 1785.
“I would suggest that the province of New Brunswick is attempting to rewrite Canadian history,’’ Lee said.
Malpeque MP Wayne Eastern said he also finds New Brunswick’s 2017 theme to be amusing.
“Maybe it’s because they’re connected by the (Confederation) Bridge,’’ Easter said, tongue in cheek.
At the moment, Easter has a private member’s bill before the House of Commons designating Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.
“In my view, the spark, the seed, the germination for Canada becoming a country started at the Charlottetown Conference.’’
Lee also points to a framed proclamation hanging on the wall at City Hall, signed by former prime minister Jean Chretien, proclaiming Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.
The mayor also points to the millions of dollars poured into 2014 celebrations by both the provincial and federal governments.
“I’m going through the books now with finance. Maybe I should bill the premier of New Brunswick for all of ou4 2014 activities,’’ Lee said.