Concerns, Comments, Questions and Answers: (Revised Oct. 15, 2000)
The latest stunt by Sheila Copps must be driving you bananas. Just when you are trying your hardest to have a new flag accepted she is spend millions and millions giving away thousands and thousands of the red and white Canadian flags. I guess the Liberals may not be taking your proposal very seriously.
Not at all, we should be doing everything to promote Canadian nationalism and the flag campaign is a positive message amongst all Canadians. Remember the official Canadian flag is still the red and white Maple Leaf flag. If my proposal has merit and people across the nation endorsed it, then all the better. There is nothing wrong in making something better as long as we do not lose what we have. I am simply recolouring the borders on our national emblem. Some Liberals do like it and some don't, I stand on Parliament Hill once every month Parliament is in session with my flag flying in the wind.
This type of psuedo nationalism is disgusting. This national navel gazing by trying to find new symbols to promote "national unity" is both a waste of time and money - I hope the government is not putting money into it.
Unfortunately, the government has not helped me at all nor has anybody else, yet many people have expressed their strong support for this symbol of our "real" identity.
I have been at this for over 2 1/2 years, this proposal did not spring up like most unity groups have since October's referendum and the exposure has been significant. All federal parties are well aware of it, as are our provincial leaders. Many of these politicians have also expressed special interest in it, even Westerners surprisingly.
Our red and white Maple Leaf flag is beautiful because it is a simple, clean, symmetric design. This slight recolouring does not take any of the strong symbols such as the Maple Leaf away from it but simply adds a little blue to reflect our duality, and keeps in line with the design rules. What is wrong with making something even more beautiful?
As English Canadians we are very cozy with the red and white colours, feel good about them. But what if the flag had, for some crazy reason, been selected with only blue and white? And matters being what they are today, how cozy would we feel? Wouldn't we want some red in it too? By the way, the blue does not stand for Quebec exclusively, but rather for all francophones across Canada.
After the initial shock, you may find it attractive, after all, it took Canadians about 1 year to finally feel comfortable when the Maple Leaf flag replaced the Dominion of Canada Red Ensign. This symbolism is no different from the Union Jack which shares its colours with its main partners in the kingdom.
Red and white is already a duality. Red, white and blue is a triality
as in France, United States and Great Britain. Mon pays comprends le
Slight misconception, the blue stands for all francophones in Canada. This unity flag is not a Quebec issue, it is a Canadian issue.
Anybody who has followed the news since Meech Lake and Charlottetown would have been very sensitized to the Red vs Blue confrontation. Since long before Meech Lake, red and blue has taken to linguistic groups, check any newpaper or magazine since then, on that subject.
A unity flag sounds like good idea, but replace the maple leaf ensignia?!?!
You've got to be kidding!
Nobody is replacing the Maple Leaf ensignia. In the Unity flag, approximately 25% of the borders are recoloured blue to reflect our true identity and reality. The Maple Leaf is still bold and center in vivid red as always. In black and white this Unity flag looks the same as the official Canadian flag, no lost identity. My goal is first to establish a Unity flag and if the idea has merit then we can talk about further implications.
Perhaps if you are so keen on representing each society with its own colour on the flag, you could take a poll from the Italians, Germans, Koreans, Japanese, Dominicans and so on, what colours they would like to represent them. After you do that remember to calculate the percentage of the border for each colour's representation.
You are right our country is made up of many different cultures and races, but when it all comes down to it, we either end up speaking English or French, one of the two official languages in Canada.
The red has come to symbolize the English-speaking population (of which you are part of) and the blue symbolizes the French-speaking population (about 25%) of our great country.
Hence the identity and bond between the English and French "speaking" populations symbolizing unity and harmony and not the specific English, French or minority races.
I think what was done to the Canadian Flag by adding the blue border was a disgrace to what the flag stands for.
Since the design hasn't changed, only the colours which were handed down to us by King George in 1921 once England did not need them anymore having themselves put blue in the Union Jack to represent Scotland, I presume you are referring to our red and white flag as representing English Canada.
You have no right to redesign the Canadian flag in the same symbolism as the Union Jack.
As long as I declare the redesigned flag as a Unity flag and not the official Canadian flag, there is no problem. I do hope that one day the Unity Flag will become Canada's renewed flag promoting unity and harmony in our nation.
After embarking on this campaign, I found out that the British government never commissioned anyone to design their famous Union Jack flag. It came about as common sense representation of the United Kingdom and everyone started using it. Only later did the government decide to ordinate it as their new flag due its enormous popularity.
There are ten provinces to be considered in this great country, not just one overbearing province (yes I mean Quebec) and then the rest of the country.
The blue represents the French Fact in CANADA, not just Quebec. This is no appeasement to separatists. Before and after the Referendum, I was on-line in forums opposing their views and exposing their myths daily.
I feel Canada needs only one official language - English. When I go shopping I hate having to see the French on everything I buy.
That's the Canadian spirit! Not! Actually it is this type of attitude that has got us in the mess we are in today.
To finish I would once again like to voice my disgust at the defacing of The Canadian Flag - a symbol of pride to my country.
It's my country too! Defacing is denigrating or desecrating something, far from what I am doing. If anything, I am enhancing our flag to promote an idea. Sorry you feel that way, but please bare in mind that no where do I claim this is the Canadian flag, rather a Unity flag and a proposal for a "renewed" Canadian flag.
What's next changing the National Anthem to suit the French?
Maybe you should learn your Canadian history. The National Anthem was "originally" French by song-writer Calixa Lavallée and lyrics by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier and first performed on June 24, 1880 in Québec City. It was later translated into its official English version by Justice Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. The history of the National Anthem can be found at the Canadian government web site: http://www.canada.gc.ca/canadiana/anthm_e.html#h1.
Why not also put a Fleur-de-Lis onto your Unity flag?
The Fleur-de-Lis being the provincial symbol of Quebec is not representative of the whole French culture in Canada and has no place being on the Unity Flag. Besides the Maple Leaf is more symbollic of the French Canadian culture than the Fleur-de-Lis which was a symbol of the old French Monarchy. The newspaper "Le Canadien" of Quebec City in 1806 pushed for the Maple Leaf to become Canada's new symbol replacing the beaver In its first year of existence in 1834, La Société St. Jean Baptiste's president, Denis Viger , again called for the Maple Leaf to become Canada's new symbol. In 1854, Suzannah Moodie wrote a short story about the Maple Leaf symbol and it was from that time on, that English Canada grew warm to the idea. . (The beaver represented the fur trade while the Maple Leaf represented the Maple syrup industry of which French-Canadians and particularly Québécois, are the leading exporters worldwide.)
Or perhaps you simply like the red white and blue of the American flag.
If I preferred the red, white and blue American flag I'd be living there. Let us not forget that the USA does not have a monoploy on the red, white and blue colours, in fact 34 countries share them, mainly Australia, Chile, Cuba, France, Netherlands, Norway and United Kingdom. And Canada does not have a monopoly on the red and white colours, 17 countries have them mainly, Austria, Denmark, Japan, Peru, Poland, Switzerland, and Turkey.
The Americans have renewed their flag 17 times, England and France at least 4 times each.
With all due reverence to our flag, let me tell you 2 stories about our colours (which incidently I like but found in 1992 that we were missing something):
1) A senior Ottawa civil servant told me about how the red and white colours came from England after they did not need them anymore (St. George's Cross) when they incorporated the Scottish, Irish and Welsh colours and symbols in their Union Jack. He told me that the red colour was not England's originally and that it was taken from the Red Dragon of Wales. So on the way home I said to myself, gee that should make the francophones feel right at home, right !?!
2) A Liberal senator told me that I was crazy because the government would never change the red and white flag, besides its their Party's colours ! I told the senator that funny enough I have heard that before by talking to people who referred to our "Liberal" flag, but I did not want to bring up this matter.
Conceived in 1992 but only materializing in 1994, this proposal is not newly born from the post referendum era.
As western MPs said to me on Oct. 27, 1994 on Parliament Hill where I was flying this flag, "What the hell is that, our new flag?" I said "It could be if everyone agreed to it." They said "What's the matter with our present flag?" "Nothing" I said "its beautiful but we can make it even more beautiful and accommodate everyone." "OK" they said and they all grabbed Unity flag decals from me.
The nine provincial premiers (never cared to ask M. Parizeau) have all expressed interest in this flag through our correspondence in 1995. All federal parties (except the Bloc to whom I did not offer one) have shown interest as well and they all have one.
The last Thursday of Parliament before the summer break '96, I offered a sticker to Mr. Preston Manning as he came out of the House of Commons but he refused saying that he already had some (I sent him some the previous year). However as he drove past me his car stopped and he asked me for another one, then he thanked me and drove away for the summer.
During the World Cup Team Canada vs. Germany in Montreal where we won a berth in the final rounds, Team Canada was presented with one of these Unity flags. I wrote in a letter that my dream is to see Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux holding this flag between them at center ice, symbolizing unity and harmony, with Gordie Howe and Jean Beliveau holding another next to them. Our national sport truly reflects our duality and our common heritage.
The whole rationale behind this proposal is that we would want to do it as opposed to we have to do it, otherwise we would be doing it for the wrong reason. I still believe Canadians have their hearts in the right places.
With the blue stripes on the flag aren't we copying the Americans' red, white and blue?
No way, the Americans copied the British flag's colours and as a former member of the British Commonwealth we are more justified to use these colours than they are. Besides these colours are more symbolic for us. Similarly to how the red cross of the Union Jack represents the English, the blue the Scottish and the diagonal red cross the Irish, the red in our Maple Leaf represents the English-speaking people in Canada and the blue the French-speaking people. Our renewed flag's colours could be classified as: Red and Blue on White.
Why do you have blue on the flag when Canada's colours are red and white as given us by King George V in 1921? Our flag's colours should only be red and white.
True, as mentioned above, we were given England's former colours and the Unity flag stills proudly displays the bright red Maple Leaf and our red and white colours along with a touch of blue. Nobody said that our flag should only be of these 2 colours. As a matter of fact, back in 1964 when over 30 designs for our flag were being reviewed, the most popular one had the red Maple Leaf on a white background with blue borders, signifying Canada from sea to sea. Had there been a rule that our flag can only be red and white, we would have had 30 designs of red and white only, which was not the case, they were mostly multi-coloured designs.
More Comments, Answers and Letters: Feb. 15, 1999
>This is a card that was given to me today (Feb 14, 1999) at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. I thought the guy was handing out Canadian flag stickers or something, but I got this. Seems there's a group that wants this to be our new flag so that we can "recognize Canada's linguistic duality".<
It's as simple as that. A stronger identity, a stronger bond.
>Look buddy, I don't know who you are but don't even think about changing the Canadian Flag. Its fine just the way it is. Who do you think you guys are, you don't need a part of Quebec in the Canadian flag, if so why the hell can't I get a beaver on the flag for Ontario? Get a life and stop screwing around with Canada.<
I understand your initial shock over this matter, but let me make the point that it is not recognition of just Quebec but rather the French culture in all of Canada. It is not a Quebec issue but a Canadian one.
The truth is that traditionally we always had blue in the flag before our official Maple Leaf was founded in 1964 and that up until the very last week, the general public preferred the red maple leaf with solid blue borders representing Canada from sea to shining sea. I even met a merchant on Sparks street in Ottawa who had 200 of these flags made ahead of the judgement only to have the Liberal government change the colours to solid red and white. They sold us on the line that we did not want the red white and blue of the US when all they really wanted was the red and white of the Liberal party. I am not knocking the Liberals, but facts are the facts.
Incidently this was all confirmed to me this summer when I personally met a former MP in Lancaster Ontario who was on the flag committee in 1964. Many wanted blue on the flag but after Pearson's Pennant (three maple leafs with blue borders) was defeated and replaced by a single maple leaf, the blue borders also fell when Pearson, at the last minute, decreed that the colours would be Liberal colours (he did not say Canada's colours).
There are 34 countries with red, white and blue, while there are 17 countries with red and white colours. So nobody has ownership of these colours. As a matter of fact we have more right to the red, white and blue than the US since those were Britain's colours and the Yanks took them after their revolution, while we belonged to the British Commonwealth. In any case the Americans are distinctly the Stars and Stripes and we are distinctly, the Maple Leafs.
In our case the red and blue are really significant while in the USA's case they are really insignificant as I found out 2 months ago when I visited the US embassy in Ottawa and asked them about their colours. Their red stands for the blood shed defending their country while the blue stands for valour, typically themes of so many countries.
My contention is that we do not have to do it but rather we would want to do it and I believe Canadians still have their heart in the right places, i.e. the flooding in Manitoba and Quebec.
Help us keep Canada united by making Canada a more open and inclusive society by recognizing our linguistic duality on our national emblem.
Where did you come across the Unity flag, on the website or the cards and stickers I handed out to many Canadians after the Remembrance Day ceremonies on Parliament Hill 2 weeks ago? Many of the decorated vets gave me their blessing. I told them that we were eternally grateful that they kept our country free and that we would do our upmost to keep it united. They urged me to keep at it and I told them that they could count on me.
Thanks for your views and comments. End.
<<I have been very active promoting and displaying this flag in public, the latest grand event was flying this hugh flag 18 feet above the crowd of over 20,000, on Parliament Hill, during Her Majesty's Royal visit to celebrate our 130th. anniversary on Canada Day, July 1st, 1997. The Unity Flag reflects the same symbolism as the Union Jack, the blue representing the Francophones in Canada and the Scots in Great Britain, respectively.
Appearing in Unity rallies around Montreal and Ottawa was not too great a test for it, so I took the 15 footer to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on June 12, 1997. I managed to bungee-cord it to a grandstand among a group of Québécois. They even helped me put it up. After standing back to look at it, one said "mais on veut (but we want) un Québec libre!". I told them that was a different story and that I was promoting the French Fact in Canada, French and English together. They said it looked very good and during the whole race, they couldn't keep their eyes off of it .
A group of four, who remained seated during our National Anthem, soon came over. I expected trouble, maybe them burning holes in the flag with their cigarettes or slitting it with pocket knives. Instead they asked me what it was all about, they later said that it was very beautiful and that the flag should have had blue in it from the start. They even helped explain it to other people who were asking. Now, when was the last time you had sovereignists praising a Canadian flag instead of ignoring, mocking, stomping on or even worse, burning it?
The only one who objected to it was an English-speaking Canadian from Ontario. He said that I was defacing the flag, insulting him and his country by putting blue on it He tried to get others to rally behind him but they didn't. I explained that the blue represented the French Fact in Canada and that I was promoting unity and that I had nothing to be ashamed of. He said that regardless of what it represented, he didn't want blue on his flag. I yelled back "That's the Canadian spirit! Not!! It's that attitude that got us in trouble in the first place". Later, people from the stands, all English-speaking, told me that it was a good idea.
This occassion gave me an opportunity to bring up my Unity Flag on Compuserve's Canada Forum in the middle of July. For the last 2 years, everyone stayed away from this subject when I tried to bring it up, in all probability to avoid ridiculing me since I had become friends with many of them.
When a western redneck, who doesn't mince his words, heard about how the Unity Flag was well received and the significance of the blue to sovereignists, he started considering it, but then he still rejected it. When we started talking about one of the flags with all blue borders representing Canada from sea to sea, proposed in 1964, he recalled its popularity and it being his own preference. When I reminded him that at the last minute, the Liberal government made the flag all red and white (their party colours) against popular consensus, all hell broke loose (riding the wave of Liberal unpopularity out west) and he agreed that he would allow the blue bands but "nothing more". By then many other members joined in and admitted that they could live with it and some even said that it looked very good. Nobody came out in direct opposition to it.
My goal is first and foremost to recognize the French Fact in Canada and secondly, as a result of westerners' point of view, to renew the notion of Canada from sea to shining sea (a unified country), which westerners said was more symbolic to them.
Last Saturday I talked to a western Reform M.P. whom I had met last year. He is one of six on Reform's Unity Committee, and he privately endorsed this Unity Flag to me. How much he can influence his party is yet to be seen.
Team Canada received a Unity Flag during the World Cup in Montreal last year and in a letter I expressed a dream: "To see Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux standing at centre ice holding up a Unity Flag between them, symbolizing unity and harmony, and standing next to them holding up another, Gordie Howe and Jean Béliveau", also Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur, "Our national sport truly reflects our duality and our common heritage". (This scenario who sell the flag in a minute, the redneck acknowledged.)>>
Letter to Hockey News:
I was quite excited a few years ago when Team Canada came out with their new uniforms, especially the big Maple Leaf crest worn on the chest. How glad I was to see the red and blue Maple Leaf with the figure of a hockey player diagonally across it. But wait, a closer look showed me that the blue was really black.
Disappointed I asked myself why and I am still asking myself why. It was obvious to me that the red and the blue stood for the English and French-Canadian players in the country. So why black, I still can't see one symbolic significance for this colour? It has nothing to do with Canada, black is a big ZERO.
Wayne Gretzky/Mario Lemieux...Bobby Orr/Guy Lafleur...Gordie Howe/Jean Béliveau.
Our national sport truly reflects our duality and our common heritage and therefore the Maple Leaf crest with red and the blue should be worn over the chest and on the hearts of our national teams.
It is not too late for our Olympic Committee to have red and blue Maple Leaf crests sewn on all Canadian jerseys for the Nagano Games. Come on Canada let's get together.
Nothing has shown stronger ties throughout the country than world championship hockey when our team's and our country's pride is at stake.