The Montreal Gazette June 8, 1995

Letters to the Editor:

From your May 30th. story describing Mr. Claude Ryan's new book it seems that he basically has 2 strong recommendations for the federal government to show a gesture of good will to Quebecers especially those not in support of federalism: 1) recognize the distinct Francophone society and 2) return the right to veto over constitutional changes.

The first recommendation is easy. In my discussions with many Francophones, all they really want is to be recognized, no special powers or privileges. Instead of writing it into the constitution where it is forgotten, show this identity in our national symbol. Add blue bands within the red borders of our flag representing 25% of the total border width, and as a result make our Canadian flag even more beautiful, all without losing our own identity.

The second recommendation is a little more difficult because it is asking for special privileges. Since this assurance is very important to Quebecers who feel they may be forced against their will, then maybe we should be giving the ROC the same privilege. Set up 5 veto regions: the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairie provinces (Sask & Man) and the Western provinces (Alta & BC). In this manner, we will all enjoy the same privileges while working things out.

It is also important for our provincial leaders to remember that we are all working together and that, like a big family, not all of the children can always get everything they want, sometimes the parents have to decide who gets what when there is not enough to go around, and that your turn will come too, in all fairness. It is also important to remember that, like the less fortunate members of a family, these members should contribute their share and enjoy the same treatment as the more fortunate ones even at their expense. Pooling together and helping each other is what it is all about especially in the face of stiffer international competition.

We should be proud of our respective mother tongues, our distinct cultures and heritage, continue to enrich them while working and flourishing together in unity and harmony, with mutual respect for each other. "C'est normal".

Hank Gigandet

TRCF P.O. Box 33015 Ottawa, Ontario K2C 3Y9

 

 

 

Le 14 mars, 1995

Lettre aux journaux: (non-publiée)

En étant un <franglophone> qui a habité le Québec pendant 34 années, je présente au peuple Canadien un drapeau renouvelé afin d'encourager l'unité et l'harmonie du pays. Des gens l'ont décrit comme un drapeau bilingue tandis que d'autres comme un drapeau qui symbolise l'unité. Cette idée n'est pas nouvelle, je l'ai proposée à M. Joe Clark en octobre 1992, pendant les discours constitutionnels.

Les bandes bleues ne représentent pas le Québec seulement, mais plutôt tous les francophones, la société distincte du Canada, et toute ceçi est accomplie sans perdre notre identité propre.

Plusieurs personnes, aussi bien que des membres du parlement, m'ont recommandés mes efforts de promouvoir l'unité et m'ont assurés que mon drapeau était très beau, mais personne n'entreprend de m'aider.

Pourquoi est-ce qu'on doit choisir entre le bleu ou le rouge? Pourquoi est-ce qu'on ne peut pas avoir les deux, le bleu et le rouge? Fier d'être Québécois(e) et d'être Canadien(ne) au même temps.

Le beau drapeau Canadien renouvelé, à coté du joli drapeau fleur-de-lis du Québec, les deux ensemble en toute fiertée.

C'est le temps d'être fier de nos langues propres et de nos cultures distinctes aussi bien que de notre patrimoine Canadienne/Québécoise, toujours en se respectant, et en s'encourageant à travailler ensemble. C'est normal.

Si vous croyez toujours à la croissance et à la suprématie du Québec et du Canada unis, s'il vous plaît présentez cette proposition à vos lecteurs.

Veuillez agréer, chers mesdames et messieurs, mes salutations distinguées,

Henri Gigandet TRCF CP 33015, Ottawa, ON K2C 3Y9

 

(Article published by Ann Carroll in The Montreal Gazette, West Island Section, Oct. 3, 1996 ):

Flying the flag - with a difference. Blue stripes symbolize French. (see Hwy.20 flag).

LACHINE - Jerry Pangborn takes his Canadian flag seriously - he's been hoisting the maple leaf in the backyard of his Sir George Simpson St. home since 1970. But this staunch federalist didn't bat an eye when a stranger knocked on his door in June and suggested he replace the familiar red and white national flag with an unorthodox unity flag.

The creation of Dorval resident and unity activist Hank Gigandet, the flag bears a traditional red maple leaf on a white background, flanked by two narrow bands of blue inside red borders. The two blue stripes represent Canadian francophones, said Gigandet, who has been lobbying federal politicians to accept his unity flag since 1992.

"I thought is was great," said Pangborn, who immediately hoisted it on a 35-foot pole at the back of his home, facing Highway 20 near 40th. Ave.. Neighbours and passing motorists have rung his doorbell to ask him about the unusual flag - one woman said she was so surprised that she nearly drove her car into the ditch - but the comments have been positive. "I think that the more people who fly the flag, the better it would be for Canadian unity."

Gigandet, who has given away dozens of unity flags and thousands of flag decals, is encouraged by support from people like Pangborn. "It gives me a good feeling seeing the positive reaction to the unity flag," the 49-year-old electronics manager said. "People don't just like it, they love it."

Gigandet said that he got the idea of incorporating blue stripes in the Canadian flag during the Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional talks. "You were always seeing the red and white (Canadian flag) clashing with the blue and white fleur-de-lis," he recalled. "I felt that the real identity of the country was the red maple leaf along with the blue."

Gigandet decided that 25 percent of the Canadian flag's red borders should be converted to blue to represent the francophone population across the country. Gigandet noted that his use of blue had no connection with the prototypes of the Canadian flag in the 1960s, which used blue borders to represent "Canada from sea to sea." He also stressed that there is no room for the Quebec fleur-de-lis on his flag. "The blue represents the francophones across Canada - it's not a Quebec issue."

Gigandet has since become a regular figure on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, collecting signatures on a petition to have his flag adopted as the new Canadian flag and handing out decals to anyone who'll accept them. He's also established a Canadian - unity home page on the Internet. He can be reached at: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/trcf.

Letters to the Editor:

Distinct Society Acceptance? Dec. 23, 1996

(Published in The Montreal Gazette on Jan. 14, 1997 entitled: Recognizing Canada's francophones as a distinct society might solve conundrum.)

Though I believe in a "distinct society clause" and a "constitutional veto", my numerous discussions over the last year in a nationwide network forum have revealed that many Canadians still do not want special status for Quebec as they fear that special powers may accompany such a clause. This is coupled with the fact that the present government here may use this clause to limit individuals' rights and freedoms.

I am proposing an alternative definition that has already won some acceptance from those who originally opposed "distinct society" in the rest of the country. Since the "distinct society clause" is for the recognition of the French-speaking population, why don't we recognize the whole francophone population in Canada as a "distinct francophone society" in Canada as opposed to Quebec exclusively. This clause would encompass all francophones across Canada comprised by the francophone majority in Quebec and shared by the francophone communities "hors du Québec".

Furthermore, since Quebec is the homeland of French in Canada "la patrie de la francophonie au Canada", combine this with a "constitutional veto" over constitutional matters regarding its culture, civil code and language in order to safeguard or preserve "la société distincte francophone au Canada". This veto for Quebec in the spirit of Meech Lake while protecting and promoting the French language, should also guarantee to respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

And lastly, "regional vetos" as already proposed for the other major regions of the country would guarantee that the special interests of these regions would be duly represented and mutually respected at any forthcoming constitutional reforms or amendments.

 

 

la société distincte (traduction)

Malgré que je poursuis la "société distincte" et un "veto constitutionnel" dans un forum national, mes nombreuses discussions pendant l'année dernière m'indiquent qu'un grand nombre de Canadiens ne désirent pas un statut spécial pour le Québec, se souciant que des pouvoirs supérieurs seraient accordés par une telle déclaration. Ceci est amplifié du fait que le gouvernement présent pourrait se servir de ce statut pour limiter les droits et les libertés individuels.

Je propose une autre définition qui a déjà merité l'appui de ceux qui, à l'origine, ont opposé "la société distincte" dans le reste du pays. Puisque "la société distincte" reconnaît le fait français, pourquoi la population francophone entière au Canada ne serait-elle pas reconnue comme "la société distincte francophone" au Canada, au lieu du Québec exclusivement. Cette reconnaissance de la francophonie au Canada compterait d'abord le Québec comme majoritaire francophone et ainsi serait partagée par les communautés francophones "hors du Québec".

De plus, puisque que le Québec est "la patrie de la francophonie au Canada", accorder au Québec un droit de "veto" pour les affaires constitutionelles en ce qui concerne sa culture, son code civil et sa langue afin de sauvegarder et de maintenir "sa société distincte francophone" au Canada. Ce veto constitutionnel québécois, dans l'esprit du lac Meech permettant de promouvoir et de protéger la langue française, servirait aussi de garantir le respect de la chartre canadienne des droits et libertés.

Et finalement, les "vetos régionaux" tels que déjà proposés pour les autres régions majeures du pays garantiraient que les intérêts spéciaux de ces régions seraient dûment représentés et mutuellement respectés pour les réformes ou amendements constitutionnels à venir.

 

 

 

Distant-society idea has been tried before - to no avail.

(Published in the Montreal Gazette on Jan. 20, 1997 from Donald L. Healy)

Hank Gigandet's letter suggested that the recognition of all of Canada's francophones, rather than Quebec, as a distinct society might solve our unity problem.

With all due respect to him for a well-meant idea, hasn't this already been done? In the constitution that the Trudeau government delivered in 1982, the French-speaking and English-speaking portions of Canada's population were singled out as sufficiently distinct among the many cultures that make Canada what it is that their two languages were recognized and enshrined as the only official languages of the land. Canada has two constitutionally protected distinct societies and francophones constitute one of them.

The Lucien Bouchards and the Daniel Johnsons aren't satisfied either, for neither will sign the constitution that already recognizes francophones as distinct - though not exclusively and not only if they are Quebecers.

English and French Together: Jan. 21, 1997

(Published in The Montreal Gazette on Jan. 27, 1997 entitled: "Touch of blue" would help unity)

In Mr. Donald Healy's letter of Jan. 20, which responded to mine of Jan. 14, regarding distinct society recognition of all francophones in Canada instead of just Quebec, he is right that the 1982 repatriation of the constitution implicitly recognized the francophone society by enshrining French as one of the two official languages in Canada. My point is that instead of "implicitly" recognizing the francophones let us "explicitly" recognize the French culture and society in our constitution. Combine this with a constitutional veto for Quebec to safeguard its French culture, civil code and language within Canada, an issue which I believe was not entrenched in the repatriation of 1982.

As a matter of fact, let us take it one (and final) step further to recognize the francophones in Canada by "entrenching" their colours on our national emblem, a symbol that is visible every day of our lives from coast to coast. I believe this is necessary to finally close the loop for national recognition of the French Fact in Canada. Our beautiful Red Maple Leaf representing our vast country, resources, wilderness and the Native people, was accepted by both the French and English-speaking in the 1960s, but the borders being totally red missed the mark in recognizing the francophones. A touch of blue to represent the francophones would create a greater identity and pride and therefore a stronger bond and appreciation between French and English-speaking people.

(This last section was dropped, not published, by the editors):

Approximately 25% of the borders have been recoloured blue on a Unity flag to represent our country's duality, English and French together, similar to how the Union Jack came about. We could make our Canadian flag even more beautiful, all without losing our own identity.

On Team Canada's visit to Montreal during the World Cup, they were presented with a Unity flag and a dream: " To see Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux holding up a Unity flag between them at centre ice symbolizing unity and harmony, and standing next to them, Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur, as well as Gordie Howe and Jean Béliveau, holding up others. Our national sport truly reflects our duality and our common heritage."

It's time to represent Quebec on flag:

(Published in The Montreal Gazette on Feb. 2, 1997 from Thomas James Cameron. Confirmation from Mr. Cameron indicates that all francophones across Canada should be represented.)

Concerning "Touch of blue" (Letters, Jan.27), I agree with Hank Gigandet and others who have recently given their opinion regarding our flag's colours. When Canada thought of replacing the Union Jack, there was a national survey as to what our new flag should incorporate to promote Canada's identity.

At the time, I suggested to the Commission that our national emblem should be: a red maple leaf that not only symbolized our English forefathers, but also incorporated an image they readily identified with Canada; a white background intended to represent our role as peacekeepers as well as our neutrality; and finally, instead of today's red vertical stripes, I had suggested blue ones, that would have denoted our French heritage and also portrayed our country as being from sea to sea. Also, by incorporating these three colours, there would have been a sense of continuity.

With today's flag, is it any wonder that Canadians of French ancestry feel left out of the national scheme of things? Replacing the red stripes with blue ones would be politically and symbolically correct and would also bring together Canada's two founding peoples under one flag.