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CBC readers defend Christmas cheer across denominations

Categories: Canada

A memo issued in Ottawa today said the Christmas spirit would not be "grinched" in federal workspaces, a reference to Dr. Seuss' famous tale of a curmudgeon who stole a whole town's presents and decorations. (AP Photo/Warner Bro)

Treasury Board President Tony Clement has affirmed that federal employees can put up any seasonal decorations they wish - a stance that was popular with CBC readers identifying themselves as everything from Christian to atheist.

"Whether it's displaying Christmas cards, putting up tinsel or bringing out a Menorah, federal employees have every right to celebrate the holiday season in the workplace," said Clement.

"Our Government will not allow the Christmas spirit to be grinched."

The vast majority of those who commented on the story agreed with the directive, which was sent to government employees on Monday.

The memo comes one year after the head of Service Canada in Quebec banned holiday decorations in public areas.

Many rushed to support Clement - calling his stance a "common sense" one - including several who noted that they typically disagree with the man or his party.

  • "Even as an atheist, I fully support government and private sector employees being able to celebrate the holidays as they see fit. Political correctness stifles creativity and good will." - lonewolfsouris

  • "Neigbours of mine celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights with fireworks recently. Earlier in the year some Muslim neighbours celebrated Ramadan and Eid. I warmly wished them well and meant it. I never ever thought I would agree so wholeheartedly with Tony Clement. Why, I will even help him decorate the gazebos." - CassieB

  • "I don't care for this government . . .  but when they do something right, I will acknowledge it." - Whirl'd Pease

  • "Tony Clement has just redeemed himself in my eyes. We have said merry Christmas for years and I don't intend to stop." - marlanto

  • "Even those with no religious affiliation will get a day off on December 25th. My advice: spend it relaxing with friends and family. Everyone can enjoy a Merry Christmas on that level. Canada is a free country. That includes the right to practice (or abstain from) the faith of your choosing." - MaxPointy

  • "Being Canadian is being able to freely show who you are and what you believe in. Plus I love learning about other cultures and if some wishes me a Happy Ramadan, I can ask them about their culture, learn, and better understand my fellow Canadian." - RedRose T Party

  • "I'm a Muslim and I love Christmas! . . .  Political correctness might dampen good spirits but racism and insensitivity just eliminates such positivity. As we continue to grow as a society we will find the balance. Merry Christmas and Happy Channakuh!" - Man-0-Steel

"From my experience it's not usually people who practice non-Christian religions who demand that Christmas trees be taken down. They usually just want to have their holidays celebrated as well (Including in this case - I believe what happened is that people wanted to put up decorations for the winter-time holidays that they celebrated) but then overly politically correct people freak out and try to ban all decorations. I think everyone would be happier if we went for *multi*-denominational instead of *non*-denominational." - spaghetti

Others remarked that the "war on Christmas" narrative is overblown, and that the move amounted to little more than easy political points.

  • "In the news, Tony Clements says 'Hey everyone, I'm going to do the right thing, you know, just like everyone else did before me. But I really need some media coverage on it, so please bring out the cameras . . . This isn't a policy -- it's a press release aimed at garnering some Christmas votes." - Ultramarine

  • "All that Clement said was something that everyone else should have already known - employees of any organization, including government organizations, are free to celebrate their respective religion (or lack of religion) in their own personal workspace without fear of reprimand." - Noj on the Ceeb

  • "This 'war on Christmas' is an urban legend, which the Conservatives are using to pander to the ill-informed, making themselves appear the heroes against an enemy that doesn't exist . . . That's enough politics. Merry Christmas!" - Try Harder

  • "If you do some research, the decision was taken because they were receiving many complaints from people of other religions that felt they were not being represented. That sounds like a reasonable view in a pluralist society. We are not a 'christian' society, regardless of what the christians might think. I have no problem with Christmas decorations, as I usually put them up myself, but for Clement to make this into a Grinch issue is simply skewing the original concern." - B U Tiful BC

A few commenters did, however, step forward to say Christmas decorations, especially religious ones, have no place in publicly funded workspaces.

  • "Yes let's just pretend that people don't have any legitimate concerns about Christmas (a religious holiday) being emphasized above all others. Why shouldn't the government be secular?" - postypost

  • "At the risk of being called a Grinch, the issue is personal freedom vs state-sanctioned religious doctrine. As a citizen, I may decorate my home with lights and trees; and wish everyone I meet a Merry Christmas. But, I believe my government, and my employer for that matter, should be using the politically correct 'Happy Holidays'" - Fred.F.

The top rated comment by Fight4urRight inspired a lengthy thread, which included a few cheeky entries.

  • "I'm offended by people who are offended." - Fight4urRight
  • "I'm offended by people who are offended by people who are offended." - cheeseburger435
  • "I'm offended by people who are offended at those who are offended by those who offend those who offend." - Whirl'd Pease
  • "I often offend Ed, and Ed often fends off offensive feds." - Danux_

Thank you, as always, for enriching the discussion. Please feel free to comment on or challenge any of these points and continue the conversation below.

Tags: Canada, Politics

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