Jan. 6, 2002 <<Open Letter>>
Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall, Ottawa Fax: 613-998-1664
As the new year begins we contemplate our identity as Canadians and realize that the events of the past year which have shaken our sense of security, have actually brought us closer together.
In this 50th. year celebration of the appointment of Canadians as Governor General, we appeal to Your Excellency in an endeavour to further unify our nation.
For the past 7 years, we have been promoting a Unity flag which adds a 'touch of blue' to our national emblem, making our flag even more beautiful than it already is, all without losing our own identity. Approximately 25% of the borders, of the Unity flag, have been recoloured blue to represent the 'French fact' in Canada. In essence, by redefining the characteristics of our flag, we would promote a more inclusive symbol truly reflecting our linguistic duality.
Of all our diverse cultures and races, we fall under the umbrella of our two official languages as English and/or French-speaking Canadians. The red and the blue reflect this reality very appropriately, while the big red maple leaf proudly symbolizes our great land, its vast territory and natural resources, and notably, the First Nations who are one with the land.
From the very first day of its public viewing, the Unity flag made a significant difference by putting a smile on fellow Canadians' faces. Isn't that what being Canadian is all about? Starting with a whisper in our ear on Oct. 24th. 1994 outside the National Archives Library, "Merci pour la saveur francophone dans le drapeau canadien", followed by "Merci pour le bleu" from a young man cycling near the Lachine Canal in Montreal's Tour de l'Ile in 1995, and countless more encouraging remarks from both French and English-speaking Canadians.
It would also have made a difference to the woman visiting the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City in 1998 with her family. Her comment "Il n'y a que du rouge" expressed disappointment as red and white flags in French Canada's capital, poorly displayed inclusiveness, the red and white being England's former colours.
The addition of 'blue' would create a greater sense of identity, thereby instilling more pride, and creating a stronger bond while promoting unity and harmony in our great land. It would be a renewed symbol of inclusiveness.
In the year 2000, we have lost two of the greatest French-Canadians of the past 100 years, namely Maurice 'The Rocket' Richard and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Both were remarkable examples of what this country is all about. It was heartening to have the unique Unity flag, bearing the No. 9 in the centre of the Maple Leaf, so graciously accepted by the Richard family after the unveiling of the Maurice Richard statue in Parc Jacques Cartier in Hull 2001. They thought it was just beautiful.
The renewed Canadian emblem would also be a fitting tribute to honour the legacy of Pierre E. Trudeau, who instituted official bilingualism in this country. His heritage would be honoured and our official languages portrayed from coast to coast to coast, as well as on our ships and our embassies throughout the world.
The truth is now known that Prime Minister Pearson was denied blue on our flag by Opposition Leader John Diefenbaker. Mr. Pearson dearly wanted blue borders on our flag representing Canada from sea to shining sea', as did most Canadians at the time. Mr. Diefenbaker, the Tory chief, tried desperately to derail the adoption of our new Maple Leaf flag and stipulated that he would only accept a 'red and white' flag. Not because these were our official colours handed down to us by England, but rather because he took a chance that Prime Minister Pearson would never accept a new flag without the blue. Consequently, the government had to spin the line "we didn't want to be like the Americans" to have Canadians accept the 'red and white' design, not drawing to our attention that our colonizing motherlands, England and France, both had blue on their flags.
We must also remember that the Americans are the "Stars and Stripes" whereas we are distinctively the "Maple Leafs".
From this, we can draw the conclusion that there is no sanctimonious reason to exclude blue from our flag. Traditionally we have always had blue in our flags and most Members of Parliament and Canadians wanted blue on our new flag.
The renewing of one's national emblem reflects the evolution of one's nation. With Her Majesty the Queen's visit here this year celebrating her Golden Jubilee as our Royal Monarch, it would be apropos to consider renewing our national emblem to reflect our duality, just as the British had done by adding blue to their Jack to symbolize their Union with the Scots.
We are fully aware that the Office of the General Governor has no legal authority to renew our flag as this authority belongs to the elected Government of Canada. However, as our appointed Head of State, Your Excellency has tremendous influence over the well being of all Canadians and the symbolic inclusiveness and mutual respect of our two official linguistic groups. These would best be reflected on our national emblem.
We are appealing to Your Excellency for your assistance since all indications from the governing party show that there is little interest in considering the merits of renewing the flag. One would hope that it is not complacency on their part or that it would be to their political advantage to leave the unity issue unresolved. Nor also anything as simplistic as one Liberal Senator told us, "We will never change the colours of the flag, they are our party colours".
Surely an appeal to Parliament from the Office of the Governor General with regards to renewing our national emblem to promote unity and harmony, would have a great impact and possibly spark a discussion in the House of Commons and the Senate.
Renewing the flag is not absolutely mandatory, but the benefits would be tenfold. However, Canadians must want to do it and not have to do it, otherwise they would be doing it for the wrong reasons. We sincerely believe that most Canadians still have their hearts in the right place.
Would Your Excellency rightly consider this endeavour for Canadian unity?
TRCF Committee Tel: 514-747-1571
P.O. Box 33015 Fax: 514-747-9528
Note: To finish understanding our proposal in a nutshell, see "Comments to the book: I Stand for Canada" on page 4 of our site.