The Gazette’s editorial, Sept. 1, “Out with the black, in with the blue” with reference to Team Canada’s hockey uniforms, has stirred controversy. Most people agree that blue should be included to reflect what this country is all about, just like our national hockey team. When people are asked what the black colour stands for, they are dumbfounded, some like it, some don’t. Others say that ‘red and white only’ should be the colours of Team Canada because they are our national colours.
But where did our national colours come from? When did Canada decide on them? The fact is that Canada never chose them at all. They were handed down to us in 1921, when King George V gave us England’s old colours, since the British no longer needed them. Great Britain had added blue to their red and white to represent their union with the Scots. Canada could renew its national colours by including blue to represent our French heritage. Red, white and blue colours were abundant on Parliament Hill this past Canada Day 2004 with the 400th.anniversary celebration of French Acadian roots in Canada. Canada is mature enough to make its own decisions.
In 1964, Prime Minister Pearson wanted a new flag for Canada. He wanted the red, white and blue (re: Pearson Pennant) but Opposition Leader Diefenbaker blocked him. (Remember Diefenbaker also killed the Avro Arrow, our pride in aviation excellence). Knowing that Canadians were behind Pearson, Diefenbaker tried to derail the new flag by insisting on red and white only. He gambled that Pearson would back down if he lost his theme from ‘sea to sea’ without the blue. When the red and white Maple Leaf came about, Canadians were also dumbfounded. Pearson had to spin the line that we didn’t want to be like the Americans. However the Americans don’t own the red, white and blue, nor do we own the red and white, other countries have them too. The Americans are the ‘stars and stripes’, while we are distinctively, the ‘maple leafs’.
Not since the Official Languages Act of 1969, nor the instatement of Official Bilingualism in the Constitution in 1982, has there been one outward Canadian symbol to truly reflect our linguistic duality, our bilingual heritage. Adding blue to our national colours to represent the French-speaking fact in Canada makes perfect sense. In the renewed colours, the red would represent the English-speaking fact while the maple leaf would symbolize our great land, its vast territory and resources, and notably the First Nations who are one with the land.
With regards to Team Canada’s red, white and black uniform, one reader’s response to the article (Sept. 2) ‘No time to be blue about hockey’, states that "black makes red look menacing. Blue, by contrast, makes red look wimpy, like one of those happy meals". This is reminiscent of jocks raised under the Oakland Raider cult or that of the WWF's Undertaker. Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard didn't need black on his jersey to strike terror in opposing teams. He wore red, white and blue. Pride, courage and heart are what champions are made of. The Raider cult would rather put black on our flag.
Black is fine for pro teams but our national team should wear our colours and our pride. A red, white and blue crest should be worn on the chests and over the hearts of our Canadian players, French and English-speaking alike. The Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame has its colours right: red and blue.
Stephen Harper summed it up best in April 1998 "Governing requires a conservative temperament. This temperament includes a respect for tradition, a penchant for incremental change and a strong sense of honourable compromise... The clear need in the area of national unity is to bring together both East and West as well as English and French. It is only by bringing together those different perspectives of the country that we can hope to truly unite it".
Hockey unites Canadians like no other, East and West, French and English-speaking together. It's not time, it's overtime to include blue in our national colours. Identity instills pride and pride builds nations. It's time for Team Canada to move forward and restore the blue, and time for our national colours to follow suit.