A federal government plan to extend Canada’s Christmas holidays to mid-February could include one of the nation’s most famous holidays: “Happy Holitudes.”
But the proposal to allow people to celebrate the holiday as the official federal holiday is facing backlash from some Christian leaders who say the holiday could be perceived as offensive by Muslims.
In a letter to the minister of Canadian Heritage, Justin Trudeau’s director of communications, Sarah Hagan, said the Canadian government has the right to define its own national holiday but the government must respect the diversity of our country and not take away from it.
Hagan told reporters on Monday that she would like to hear from a minister from the Catholic Church or the Jewish faith on how to address this matter.
“Happy Holones” are a celebration of Canadian independence that was celebrated in 1892 in Toronto.
It has been the focus of debate over whether Muslims should be allowed to participate in “Happy Days” celebrations in Canada.
In December, a petition signed by about 300,000 people opposed to the “Happy Hones” law gathered more than 2,500 signatures.
It was signed by members of the Canadian Jewish Congress, a religious advocacy group.
The petition, however, said Muslims were “not welcome” to celebrate Christmas in Canada, and it also accused the government of not having enough information on the holiday.
The Canadian Jewish Federation said it supports a variety of holiday traditions, including the observance of Jewish festivals and holidays.
Hudson Bay Councillor Mike O’Brien, a Muslim, called the proposed legislation “a step in the wrong direction.”
“It’s very divisive,” he told CBC News.
“I don’t understand why we need to be forced to celebrate holidays that are different to us.”
Hagan said she was working on a plan to address concerns over the “happy holidays” law and would meet with members of her ministerial team in the coming days.
O’Brien said the government should focus on creating a better understanding of Canadians’ traditions and traditions from around the world.
“It doesn’t make sense to have Muslims celebrate Christmas, but it makes sense to celebrate Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas,” he said.
Hindal’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The Federal government says it is working on an updated plan to accommodate Muslims.
It says the government will continue to ensure that all Canadians are welcome to celebrate their own traditions, and encourage those who do celebrate those traditions to honour those traditions.