July 2000 (Revised Oct. 5, 2003, see 2003 Comments)
Examples of emails from persons who reacted to the Unity Flag without knowing all the facts:
Message text written by "Scott V………" Ottawa.
>Whose idea is it for the Canadian flag with the blue stripes? Obviously someone with a dismal knowledge of history.<
It's my idea Scott, I started it 6 years ago when living in Ottawa. I am no historian but open to hear your opinion.
> The Red Ensign served as Canada's flag, as did the Union Jack from the time of confederation until 1965. At that time, Lester Pearson proclaimed that Canada should have a flag that did not resemble the flag of any other country.<
I agree, no Rose of England nor Fleur de lys of France, also no Union Jack in the corner.
>The current Canadian flag was fashioned very much with Quebec, and francophones in mind.
First of all, the maple leaf. The leaf had been a symbol of the Jean Baptiste Society for years before confederation. It was later used on the uniforms of Canadian soldiers during World War One, however began as a symbol of Quebec.<
Agree. This is why I refuse to see a Fleur de lys on our National Emblem, like some suggest.
>The red in the Canadian flag is the same red as is used on the Union Jack, thus symbolizing English Canada. The white represents Quebec, or more specifically, the R.C. church. You will notice that the width of the red is the same as the width of the white, thus representing equality of the two founding peoples.<
In 6 years of promoting this idea, I have come across many explanations, including Government pamphlets, and have never heard of this one. Where did you find this? Most people don't even agree that the red symbolizes English Canada when I explain the meaning of the red and the blue, English and French together. The Government's own pamphlets say the red represents the blood and losses shed in wars and the white is our snowy north. But in fact I agree with you about the red representing the English, after all Canada got its colours from England in 1921 when King George V gave them to Canada since we didn't have any. England didn't need the red and white of St. George's Cross since they had adopted the Union Jack where they saw the wisdom of including the blue of the Scots (St. Andrews' Cross). ** Same thing for the Unity flag **.
I had a discussion with a Commissionaire one day and he told me that the red colour represented everyone in Canada and then he added that the red used by England was really taken from the Red Dragon of Wales. I drove home saying 'that should really make the francophones feel at home'.
Maybe government sold some MPs on the red and white meaning English Canada and Quebec since the red meaning alone would have never been accepted. BTW, I would never say the red and the blue represents English Canada and Quebec but rather French Canada, all francophones across Canada, not just Quebec. It's a Canadian issue not a Quebec one and I deplore nationalists here in Quebec who build walls around Quebec. I can easily agree though that the white could have been symbolic of the RC Church for those that wanted to accept that argument.
In 1964, before the flag was adopted, the red and blue were not English and French colours being fought over. The language card only started playing in the late 1960s with the separatist movement. The red and blue on the national agenda represented the Liberals and the Tories, and they bickered constantly over which one was to prevail when they took their turns in power. The Liberals would tear out blue carpets and replace them with red and vice versa when the Tories were in power. Party politics.
You sound like you are old enough to remember the different designs that the government was considering back in 1964, I was in high school and as keen as everyone else to see our new national emblem. Pearson's Pennant, the 3 maple leafs (the English, French and Native people) with blue borders (Canada from sea to shining sea) was eventually replaced with one big red Maple Leaf but still with blue borders. This was the overall favourite of the Canadian people as polled by the media. Within 1 week of the final decision, the design was changed to 'red and white only' and we were sold the goods that we didn't want to be like the Americans, so everyone believed it, including myself, and our red and white Maple Leaf flag was born.
With the language issue becoming more prominent, the colours started taking on a new meaning where the red was pitted against the blue by Quebec nationalists. After the failure of the Meech and Charlotte Accords, my suggestions to Joe Clark (our Unity Minister at the time) fell on deaf ears, so I decided to take the bull by the horns and address this issue. I was convinced that we needed a touch of blue on our flag to close the gap. Thus the start of the Unity flag.
Surprisingly two years ago I met Mr. Raymond Rock, now living in Lancaster ON, who in 1962 was elected MP for a west Montreal riding and who was on the flag committee in 1964. He told me straight out that Pearson told his MPs in the final week, that our new flag would have red and white colours only, "Liberal Colours only", he didn't say "Canada's Colours only". Mr. Rock also said that many members wanted blue as we have traditionally had blue in our flags.
Of all the great things Pearson did, I believe on this issue he short-changed us for party partisanship, and therefore I wonder if he was disrespectful of the Canadian people who openly favoured the blue borders' concept of Canada from sea to shining sea.
All these arguments are already stated in Questions, Comments and Concerns as well as Original Flag on page 4 of my web site. Please take the time to read it should you have any more points you wish to make concerning this.
>The initiative for a distinctly Canadian flag came from the province of Quebec. Polls commissioned at the time showed most English Canadians wanted to keep the Ensign, while most Quebecers wanted a flag that did not include the Union Jack.<
This is partially true as most French-Canadians wanted to see the Union Jack removed from the flag since it was a symbol of domination by the British conquerors (the same still holds true for the Monarchy on our dollar bills, but this is another issue). English and French Canadians both wanted a new flag to show our own sovereignty over England and both agreed not to have any symbols from the English or French motherlands. The quest for a national flag goes back to the late 1800's and I know the grandson of a Canadian officer by the name of Carr from Winnipeg back in the 1920s who publicly campaigned for our own national emblem back then. His flag was a large multicoloured Maple Leaf (autumn colours) on a dark blue background. It was very attractive and his picture, along with another soldier, appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper at that time. There were small movements all over the country for our own flag.
>I applaud you wanting to promote Canada, but fumbling with the flag is not going to make unity.<
Our flag is not something to fumble with, it is a proud symbol of our identity. If it is to be renewed, it must be a sincere effort for the betterment of our country.
>I see your flag pop up during Canada Day, <
Celebrating Canada the last 4 years on Parliament Hill, the red and the blue..a reality not sufficiently represented in our National Emblem. Did you see the Unity flag at Maurice Richard's funeral with a no. 9 in the center of the Maple Leaf? Truly symbolic. The Rocket was the pride, courage and heart of French Canada, and a Canadian national hero. See: www.ottawacitizen.com search archives: "Richard" doc. no. 12 'Richard remains a myth and a symbol..' photo no. 3. The Citizen was wrong to call it a Canadian flag when in fact it isn't. A Letter to the Editor claimed I was desecrating the flag. The separate note below is a response to that remark.
>and tragically, I've seen it during Remembrance Ceremonies !! I<
This was a very hard decision on my part to make starting in 1994, second-guessing all the time if it were proper at this occassion. First and foremost to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives for our country. Secondly since none of the vets had fought under our Maple Leaf flag, it was a way to reach out to them and their families from all across Canada and though some have not agreed with me, I have had many vets (well decorated ones as well) applaud my efforts and tell me they stood behind what I was doing and not to give it up. They said they had fought along side French-Canadians and they had mutual respect for each other.
>I suppose we have the freedom in this wonderful country to cook up any version of the flag we desire and show it any time we choose, but I feel it's disrespectful.<
If it is done with that intent, then you would be right to feel that way.
> Are we going to change to flag every 30 years ? What about new Canadians ? Natives ? Gays ? We will end up with symbols that are meaningless and serve only to make interest groups happy.<
I never had, nor will have, the intention to change the flag, especially not for the reasons above. I do favour slightly renewing the flag by adding a 'Touch of Blue'. In black and white, our National Emblem and the Unity flag look the same, no change in design. We have a beautiful flag now but there is no reason not to make it even more beautiful, without losing our own identity. It is more symbolic of our linguistic duality.
NB: Natives: I will modify my web site to show what I show on the cards I pass around, because it is not very evident on the site, you have to dig into the text:
The maple leaf symbolizes our vast country, our natural resources and our First Nations. The red and the blue, our official linguistic duality.
>Bad idea folks.<
I can't agree. For Canada I believe it's a win-win situation, though not an easy sell. People must be educated first. Look for the CBC series this fall regarding Canadian History and the Canadian People.
I just bought a Molson Canadian ' I AM. CANADIAN ' T-shirt with the famous rant "....I speak English and French, not American....." and a thick Molson Canadian sweatshirt with CANADIAN spelled in alternating BLUE and RED letters. Can't wait to wear them my next outing promoting Canadian unity, it says it all!
1965: A federal MP said "Now that we have our own National Emblem, it is up to us to maintain it and the day we stop maintaining it, is the day nobody cares anymore".
2000: The new MP from Newfoundland: "The problem with our country is not that some are asking so much, but that others are willing to give so little."
(In the case of the Unity flag, French Canada is not even asking for it, though I know they would accept it warmheartedly. Oh, but what a gesture of good will from English Canada from Canadians who still have their hearts in the right place, like when the Saguenay was flooded and Canadians from across the country helped them out. Don't think it has been forgotten.)
Thank you for your comments Scott, it shows you really care and there is nothing wrong with that. Please give this some thought and if you have any further questions, I'd be glad to hear from you again.
Hank, I do owe you an apology. I wrote that letter in the spirit of my experiences as a teacher here in Ottawa.In my school, Remembrance Day ceremonies can no longer have a cross,' In Flanders Fields' is frowned upon ; 'crosses row on row'. Can't call it Christmas.It's now'.Winter Festival'. It goes on and on...when I call head office to get an explanation, I get someone who does not know what they are talking about. You obviously have taken much time and thought. You do know your history. I was told by a professor at Carleton University what the significance of the colours were. Of course, at the time, royalists were told it was the red from the Union Jack...those that wanted something religious, the
white is the church. It's anyone's guess. Those colours can mean anything. You could tell a Westerner that the blue on your flag represents the two oceans. I was born in 1959. I only remember my kindergarten class going on one February day to see the principal hoist the new flag up. I did not take much notice until 15 years later, I was in university, working part time at the Ottawa General . The hospital was brand new, and two flagpoles were installed. One had the Canadian flag, the other, the Ontario.
Well, most of the people working there were francophones. Guess what ? They got a petition going and had the Ontario flag removed !!! Those responsible did not like having to look at the Union Jack when they came to work !!! I became a defender of things traditional, as well as a royalist. I don't think Quebec will feel any better or worse if we change the flag, ditch the monarchy etc. The Bloc Quebecois introduced a Bill to have HMCS removed from our navy ships. If left up to Quebec nationalists, they would strip all heritage and tradition from Canada, and still want to leave !!! You mentioned the monarchy. I have no British blood in me, but I like having the Queen. There may be good reasons for getting rid of it. I admit, it is hard to defend today....Most Canadians don't care about it. It certainly will be a long while before we get rid of it. It will take the approval of most of the provinces, which will be hard to achieve. As seen in Australia, it's not that people like the monarchy, it's just they can't agree on the model to replace it.
So, Hank, this must be a hobby for you. I applaud your efforts to make Canada better. You do know your history, so you have credibility, as far as I'm concerned. I am just suspect when I hear people wanting to change institutions. You can bet that Westerners, new Canadians etc. will all want a redesigned flag, if you open this up. Have you had contact with the Prime Minister on this matter?
April 29, 2003 A reaction to the Duality Flag from a former militant Quebec Sovereignist
As an ex-militant Quebec sovereignist told us upon seeing the Cdn. Duality Flag in the St. Patrick's Parade in Montreal:
I was very pleased to find out the blue represented the French population in Canada. I felt a feeling of acceptance within the Canadian context I had never felt before, and I must say it was wonderful.
The flag is a wonderful idea, although I'm afraid it won't be as warmly accepted within the rest of Canada where the unity issue isn't as prevalent. In which case people won't find a new version of the national flag necessary.
This flag obtaining status as the official Canadian standard, combined with a constitution ensuring the promotion and protection of the French language and French language rights in all provinces would unite the peoples of Canada in a way our politicians in parliament couldn't even begin to imagine.
July 2, 2003 Another reaction to the Duality Flag on Canada Day, Parliament Hill
I must admit that when I was first shown a card with the "Duality Flag" on it I expressed nothing more than sheer outrage.
I am an extremely proud Canadian who was raised to love and respect this great country for all that it is and to never disrespect the flag as it is a national symbol of the best country in the world. I have even been angered by other people from other countries when I've seen news reports where a flag is being burned or desecrated in some manner.
I served this great country as a member of the Armed Forces for 20 years in the regular force and for 3 years in the reserves. I have been to many other countries around the world and have been flooded with pride numerous times at how others treat Canadians and have seen how peoples attitudes change towards you when they find out that your a Canuck not one of our neighbors south of the border. Every time I did return to Canada I would realize just how lucky we are to live in a country such as this. The freedoms and benefits that we enjoy so much in our everyday life but take for granted aren't offered in more than but a few other countries.
I started this stating that I felt nothing but outrage, but after reading a little bit of the material that you have on your web site, I've calmed down a bit. I would still fight tooth and nail to prevent any change to the flag that I love and was willing to fight and die for.
What I'm tired of is all the catering to people that aren't willing to do anything but tear this country apart (separatists of any kind).
All in all I just wanted to state how I felt. Initially it was to lambaste you for trying to do something that I believed was idiotic. But... like I said, I read a little bit of your site and my interest has been peaked a little by the political influence there was in the flag, (your article where you spoke to a vet and exchanged flags). I still would adamantly oppose any changes but when I have more time I will revisit your site to get a little more educated about it.
I liked the idea about the blue representing sea to sea and if that were to also include the our ties as a bilingual nation I might be able to accept that. This meaning would be of critical importance and would have to be stated outright in the adoption of any new flag. Take a look at the Quebec license plate. It used to say "La Belle Province" now it says "Je Me Souviens". Ask around in the French communities just what they are supposed to remember and you might be surprised at all the different answers you get. I know I was.
Anyway thanks for letting me vent a little and thanks for the food for thought. I will be sure to get a little more informed about this before I make up my mind totally.
Always a proud Canuck
Definitions regarding the Unity Flag and our National Emblem.
The Oxford Dictionary:
Deface: 1) spoil the appearance of, disfigure
(Bastardize) 2) make illegible
Desecrate: 1) violate (a sacred place or thing) with violence, profanity, etc.
2) deprive (a church, a sacred object, etc.) of sanctity
Any reproduction of our National Emblem which is not 100% correct can be deemed by a small group of people as defacement or desecration. This includes most car dealership flags which are printed vertically with slanted red bars.
The proposal of the Unity flag bearing blue bands within the red borders is not an act of defacement nor desecration, as it does neither of the above and it’s intent is not to show disrespect and malice. With all due reverence to our National Emblem, the Unity Flag represents more symbolically the social fabric of our country (French and English-speaking people together), while making our flag even more beautiful, all without losing our own identity.
It is time we start using a more appropriate term with regards to the Unity Flag. A large group of people define the Unity Flag as embellishment:
Embellish: 1) beautify
TRCF T(he) R(enewed) C(anadian) F(lag) for Canadian Unity
Web site: www.trcf.caEmail: email@example.com