Volume 91, Issue 86

Thursday, March 12, 1998

3,770 strong and growing


Flying low

Maybe nobody has noticed, but the maple leaf is falling.

Recently, Bloc Quebecois MPs have had a problem with Liberal and Reform MPs displaying national pride by waving Canadian flags and singing "O Canada" during question period in the House of Commons.

They were singing in response to Bloc MP Suzanne Tremblay's accusation that there were too many Canadian flags at the Winter Olympics in Nagano last month. Tomorrow it will be up to House Speaker Gib Parent to rule on whether or not singing and flag-waving are acceptable during sessions.

The scary part is that the highest level of government has to think about this. Since when did flag waving become a privilege? How can something as simple and fundamental as waving the flag of your country even be contemplated? Especially at a level that represents the country and its people.

This would never happen in the United States. If California decided they wanted to form their own government, their attempt would be quashed before they had the chance to say "Golden State." There would be no need for debate in the Congress because it is assumed that America is America – all of it.

It seems Mr. Parent is treating the right to wave small Canadian flags in the House of Commons like a teacher would tell his students not to chew gum in class. "Bad nationalists! Go sit in the hall – better yet, go to the French department."

But while Canada has to wait for this decision, something is happening: the country is looking weaker and weaker to the international community. The looney is in trouble, the political parties are scrambling to fight against separation and even our hockey teams are losing. Now the right to wave the national flag is something our government has to think over. O dear, Canada.

The solution is simple and historical. In 1834, the St. Jean-Baptiste Society of Quebec endorsed the use of the maple leaf as an official emblem with this eloquent plea: "This tree – the maple – ...at first young and beaten by the storm, pines away, painfully feeding itself upon the earth. But it soon springs up, tall and strong and faces the tempests and triumphs over the wind which can not shake it any more. The maple is the king of our forest; it is the symbol of the Canadian people."

But since the maple leaf appeared on our national flag as the emblem of our unity, flying proudly outside government buildings and in front of the homes of patriotic citizens, it appears many Quebecers would like to see the leaf dry up and crumble – which just might happen if our leaders are told to put their flags away.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998