Our National Emblem, and national colours, belongs to all Canadians not to any particular political party.
Respect for French Canada begins with recognition, not rhetoric. We champion the cause of adding blue to our national colours, to recognize the French Fact in Canada thereby symbolizing our linguistic duality.
We have also been after Team Canada, over the past 9 years, to remove the meaningless black from our national uniforms and replace it with the blue. After last year's World Cup, where we made numerous appearances, and this year's Juniors' Tournament in Winnipeg, one of Team Canada's officials has told us that the issue has been addressed. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
On Sunday March 13th. We participated in the 181st. St. Patrick's Parade in Montreal.
In the words of a former separatist, who watched the parade a few years ago:
"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".
While the red and blue colours represent our two official languages under which our multicultural diversity falls under, the Maple Leaf in the Canadian Duality Flag is redefined to represent our great land, its vast territories and resources, and notably the First Nations who are one with the land.
The country is ripe for this renewal. Easterners, who have a strong French culture presence, think it is a great idea. Quebecers would love it. Ontario would follow. And quite frankly, of the 3 flags flying in Alberta, though they back the duality theme, they are real happy to shed the Liberal colours and add the blue. The same can be said of the Saskatchewan farmers whom we met on Parliament Hill approximately 5 years ago when they protested against the grain deal. They were happy to bring a Duality Flag back home and fly it on their ranch. They asked us for one, we did not offer it.
Should the issue be raised and put on the table, parties will certainly have to endorse it, or lose the support of French Canada. And those that champion this issue will win that support.
At the close of the Liberal convention in Ottawa, March 6th., Prime Minister Martin took a low shot at his opponents, the Conservatives, as a party that would divide the country. "I refuse to believe," Martin said, "that the future of this country belongs to those who would divide us, rich and poor, East and West, English and French".
While out of politics for a short time in April 1998, Mr. Harper said in a speech "Governing requires a conservative temperament. This temperament includes a respect for tradition, a penchant for incremental change and a strong sense of honourable compromise. The clear need in the area of national unity is to bring together both East and West as well as English and French. It is only by bringing together those different perspectives of the country that we hope to truly unite it".
Mr. Harper has stayed fairly consistent throughout, even as Leader of the Conservative Party. Will he prove the Prime Minister wrong?
Our 11th. consecutive St. Patrick's Parade (181th.) on Sunday, March 13th., was another stunning success. Thousands cheered as our float and marching group made its way down Ste. Catherine Street before 250,000 people. We were near the end of the parade line-up which leaves a lasting impression on people.
As our flag-decorated bus and huge flag, carried on poles, sailed down Ste. Catherine St., many thumbs up signs, cheers and bravos were seen and heard. On one corner, some in the crowd broke out signing 'O Canada'. One man said that ours was the best thing he saw in the whole parade. Another wanted to contribute to our cause but we told him it was alright. Still he insisted on giving us something so he dropped a loonie in our pocket. He was very pleased and felt proud.
Recognition and identity............so simple.
A recent poll showed that "the majority of French Canadians felt that English Canadians thought French Canadians were inferior to them". No recognition, no equal status.
Identity instills pride and pride builds nations.
It's overtime for the blue.
"Promote Canadian unity in two ways: First, by adding blue to our National Colours to recognize the French Fact in Canada by symbolizing our linguistic duality. (Our multicultural diversity falls under our two official languages whereby the red and blue colours would represent English-speaking and French-speaking Canada respectively). Secondly, to redefine our Maple Leaf to symbolize our great country, its vast territories and natural resources, and notably, the First Nations, who are one with the land".