Saturday, March 31, 2007

Reinstating Canada's Identity and Heritage

From Saturday's Globe and Mail
March 31, 2007 at 9:21 AM EDT

Canada's Red Ensign flag, as it was when the Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought. The crest at the right was changed in 1921 to the version that existed until it was replaced by the Maple Leaf flag in 1965.

OF COURSE THE CANADIAN RED ENSIGN should fly at the April 9 commemorations of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, alongside the Royal Standard of Canada, the Maple Leaf, the Union Jack and the French tricouleur. And of course the Red Ensign should fly in perpetuity at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. The Maple Leaf is not the battle flag of a Canadian revolution. When Canada adopted the 1965 flag, Canadians did not abrogate their history.

The Red Ensign, along with the Union Jack, was the flag Canadians fought under during the First World War, and indeed the Second World War, and it deserves a place of continuing honour in this country and on its historic battlefields. To do otherwise would serve only, as the Dominion Institute's Rudyard Griffiths aptly put it, to "airbrush our history." The 1965 flag is in a sense a product of the heroic Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917, since the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers during the Great War were integral to the full achievement of Canadian independence, codified in the Statute of Westminster, 1931.

The Red Ensign is a fascinating symbol of the constitutional evolution of Canada. In its earliest form, the shield in the fly of the unofficial ensign represented the four founding provinces. But others were added with each new province (some red ensigns also included the territorial shields). During the First World War, the ensign included nine provincial shields. Only in 1924 was a federal Red Ensign developed bearing the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada. That flag was altered again in 1957, when the three green maple leaves were changed to red by the government of John Diefenbaker. That is the source of the red maple leaf on the 1965 flag.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper deserves praise for putting an end to the silly bureaucratic objections to flying the Canadian Red Ensign at the Vimy Memorial, and Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Canadian Identity, for making the change permanent. When the Queen of Canada and her Prime Minister meet on April 9 for commemorations of the battle's 90th anniversary, it is only right that the Red Ensign fly again over that hallowed ground.


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The Petition moves along...

May 1: Laurie Hawn, M.P. agrees to support petition
April 30: Sent draft petition to The Dominion Institute to seek their sponsorship
April 28: Sent draft petition to Captain(N) Pickingford, Project Manager, Canadian Navy Centennial Project
April 27: Sent petition to Blaine Barker of the Royal Canadian Naval Association and Bob Nixon of the Naval Officer's Association of Canada and Peter Dawe, Executive Director of the RMC Club
April 26: The Monarchist League of Canada members are supportive
April 25: Interesting - even heated - debate over at the Navy, Army, Air Force Forum, where the "Yeas" have it by a two-thirds majority.