Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Changing the Canadian Flag

It was on this day in 1964 that the Canadian Parliament voted to end the debate on the new design for the national flag, effectively making the current "Maple Leaf" flag official and replacing the older Canadian Red Ensign. It was a hotly debated issue by Canadian standards and although the vast majority accept and love the Maple Leaf there are still those who prefer the Red Ensign. The fact that the issue ever came up at all, however, says alot about the national trend in what was once called the Dominion of Canada. Speaking for myself, it is hard to imagine a sizeable group in any country wishing to change their national flag. The Red Ensign had long been recognized as the Canadian flag and it presided over the movement of Canada to independence and it was the flag Canadian troops fought under in both World Wars. However, rising liberal trends in Canada brought a reaction against the Canadian Red Ensign which they accused of being "too British", "too colonial" and not representative of the new multi-cultural Canada.

Part of this was an effort to appease the increasingly powerful movement of the French Canadians in Quebec toward talk of secession. Obviously if the design was to quiet such talk by the French Canadians the new Maple Leaf design did not work out as hoped. However, beyond that the primary criticism of the Red Ensign was that it reminded everyone of the late British Empire. My response to that would be a simple, "so what?!" The British Empire was one of the least oppressive and most humane and beneficial colonial organizations in the history of the world. There were unsavory instances to be sure but the British Empire brought security, stability, economic progress and representative government to vast tracts of the world, producing a number of the most advanced, free and prosperous independent countries in the world today. Moreover, if not for the Canadian ties with Great Britain the "Great White North" would most likely be part of the United States today which tried to incorporate Canada into their own union during the American War for Independence and the War of 1812. I see no reason why Canadians should not be proud of their past membership in the British Empire. In any event, changing the flag does not change history.

Allow me to also say that, while I would prefer the Red Ensign, I have no problem with the current Canadian flag and find it a very attractive design. However, I consider the issue important, still, because many of the same arguments made against the Red Ensign back in the 60's are being used today by the annoying collection of Canadian republicans who would like to see the Canadian monarchy go the way of the original Canadian national flag. Like the old flag, the monarchy is and always will be associated with Great Britain, always a reminder of the days when Canada was part of the British Empire but, also like the Red Ensign, the Canadian monarchy is also uniquely Canadian; a symbol not only of where the country came from and what it was but also what it is and the most significant difference between Canada and her closest neighbor. So, it is not simply that the flag was changed which I find disturbing (as I said, I like the new design just find) but it is the reason behind it and the trend represented by the change. Canadians should be proud of their history, their flag -both old and new, and of their form of government as well as of their own Canadian monarchy.
God Save the Queen of Canada!


  1. I've been chided often for calling Remembrance Day, Armistice Day and Canada Day Dominion Day. If we forget or amputate our history, we loose vital parts of ourselves. I don't see any other country in the world that is so embarrassed about it's heritage.
    God Save the Queen.

  2. I often do as well, mostly because all of my books as a boy were printed in the 50's. I'm afraid if Canada was the only country ashamed of it's heritage things would not be so bad. Unfortunately it is a problem that is spreading. There seems to be an arrogance of the present afflicting the world.

  3. The trouble starts, I think, with Academia. Since the mid to late 19th Century, there has been a Trend in Academic Circles to incorporate Enlightenment thinking into nearly every subject, and to liberalise the Academic world. The wiole grounding Philosophy of Modern Academia takes as its base the assumptions of the Enliughtenment, and the later developments to this idesl made in the 19th, and later 20th century.

    The Enlightr=enment wqas, of coruse, based upon the creation of a world of equels, in which all Kings where abolished in favour of the new, superior Republican system of Governance. It also suggested that the past was enturley abotu the subjugation of people under the rule of elite forces far removed fom their daily lives.

    This assumption, that the old order was oppressive, and wrong, and the new is good, leads to a hatred and violent rejection of the old order, in favour of the new.

    Karl Marx, who greatly shaped this ideological movement in the 19th century and whose writtings, along with Ingles, forms the bedrock support for the modernist trends we see today, even called for open revolution against the past. This marks a difference between American Revolutionary forces, which initially saw no actual shame in their psst, and the French Revolutionaries who insisted on depicting the past as the Dark Ages. Marx, a European with affinity for the French Revolutionaries, obviously borrowed form their narrative but refined it as a class struggle betwen the workers and hte Capitolists, and recast basically anyone not a worker into he role of a Capitolist oppressor.

    Modern Academics follows the same basic pattern, in part because its part of the overall mythos. Besides, you can't get peopel to accept the new order wihtout firts gettign them to let go of the Old. Making it somehow shameful to be British whilst Canadian, or to remember the old days of Empire makes it far easier for then to let go of it in the name of what is called progress.

    Without this shame, you won't find it easy to convince others to change.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...