The Missing Link Oct. 16, 2000

Correspondence with Mr. Paul T. Hellyer, a former Cabinet Minister in the Liberal government in the 1960s, who is now Leader of the Canadian Action Party (www.canadianactionparty.ca) led to some insight why Mr. Pearson chose our 'red and white' flag in 1964.

Dear Mr. Hellyer, Oct. 5, 2000

I couldn't get to sleep after your last email tonight, I believe I have found the "missing link", something I have been looking for, over the last couple of years now.

Message text written by "Paul Hellyer"

>You may be aware that the original "Pearson Pennant" has blue borders. That was rejected by the Progressive Conservative Party which is the reason we wound up with the flag we did.<

I couldn't figure out why Mr. Pearson, who championed the idea of blue borders on his Pearson Pennant, would eventually force the flag committee in 1964 to adopt "Liberal colours only". The blue borders signified a united Canada from sea to shining sea. The three maple leafs represented the English, the French, and the Native people. So when the popular consent was to have one large maple leaf but still with blue borders, one week before the flag decision, Pearson said we will have red and white only, abandoning the blue borders. I couldn't figure out why until now.

In 1964 the language issues and colours associated with them had not even begun, so the red and the blue were strictly the Liberals and the Tories. Mr. Diefenbaker, the Chief, wanted no part of a new flag and resisted in whichever way he could. Pearson, who was trying to give Canadians their own emblem, something they had wanted for years, had a very symbolic flag with his Pennant. But the Chief "rejected" it, just like he had shot down another symbol of Canadian pride and achievement: the "Arrow".

It must have been out of resentment for the stubborness of the Chief, that Pearson said the heck with him and his party, our new flag will have "red and white, Liberal colours only". In retrospect, the blue on our flag would have been a positive thing because since then, the red and the blue in Canada have been taken over by the French/English confrontations. Sure Mr. Pearson forced party partisanship in his decision but under the circumstances, I now understand why.

October 11, 2000

>Thank you for your post of October 5th re the "missing link". Your final paragraph is not quite the way it happened. Mr. Pearson desperately wanted a new flag for Canada and his preference was the one with red, white and blue. The Chief didn't want a new flag. So he thought he would play a trick on Mr. Pearson. He got his members of the committee to support the present flag confident that the Liberals would turn it down. His strategy backfired. Given the choice of the present flag or no flag Mr. Pearson opted for the present flag. Even without the blue, which he desperately wanted, it is a pretty flag.<

Paul Hellyer

Conclusion: It would seem Mr. Diefenbaker wanted no part of a new flag and if the Liberals pushed the issue, let the new flag be a Liberal flag with no Tory blue associated with it.