It's the flag debate -

It’s the flag debate


Old-timers have commented that the vitriolic climate in the House this week rivals the 1964 Flag Debate, in which Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker slugged it out. Actually, this is turning into another sort of flag debate.

Again, a few moments ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper lashed out at Stéphane Dion in QP for somehow failing to give the maple leaf pride of place at the Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition’s Monday evening signing ceremony. Our flag was, of course, on display, as the photographic record proves, but Harper now says it was “off to the side.” (Shame!)

Making the flag’s relative prominence an issue is obviously part of the government’s bid to focus on the Bloc’s involvement in the coalition. And that’s a valid point: Canadians might legitimately not want a new government to rely on separatist votes in the House to stay in power.

But all this flag nonsense suggests an unsavory willingness on the part of the PM to say just about anything. Can he really believe that Dion, of all people, lacks patriotism? Like him or not, Dion was long vilified in Quebec for his devotion to Canada. He lost friends. In the toughest days of his long run as Jean Chrétien’s unity minister, Dion’s wife couldn’t bear to watch TV, so harsh were the words the separatists had for him.

There’s something about flags. Was there a less edifying moment in the U.S. presidential race than the uproar from the right over Barack Obama’s failure to sport a stars-and-stripes lapel pin? It was ridiculous. So is Harper’s claim. Worse, it makes you wonder how low this could go.

Here’s something all sides should be able to agree upon: this isn’t about who loves the country more, or whether the country will endure, or if one part of the country or another is being treated unfairly. It’s about the way the party in power manages a minority Parliament, and the possibility of the opposition parties might defeat that party and form an unusual new coalition government.

You can be on either side, or neither. But it’s not about patriotism, and nobody should pretend it is.


It’s the flag debate

  1. Harper can’t tell the truth, it is not in his DNA.

    Lie, Cheat, Bully, Bribe=

    The Harper Way.

  2. Amen.

  3. Following the trajectory of anti-Obama slurs, we can probably start placing odds on Harper noting Dion’s dual citizenship before long.

    Why does a party/leader that has some reasonably credible ideas seem so compelled to reduce themselves to sh*tting puffins and flag nonsense?

  4. Hi, John:

    where were you, O’Malley and Wheery complaining about this “line of attack” when Paul Martin and Jack Layton were using it against Harper and the Tories? And why aren’t you journalistic watchdogs asking the coalition ringleader (Layton) and its “wise man” (Martin) how they can form a government that relies on the BQ when they said that Harper shouldn’t be able to look at himself in the mirror just for voting with the BQ, back in the days when they were trying to save Martin’s government? Do you or any of your journalistic friends remember writing stories like this:

    Canadian Press
    April 29 2005

    “The unofficial federal election campaign has turned downright racy with charges of political promiscuity and sleeping with the enemy. Prime Minister Paul Martin and NDP Leader Jack Layton used separate stops half-a-country apart yesterday to deliver a common message: the Conservatives are in bed with the separatists in a fickle attempt to bring down the minority Liberal government….. Layton kicked off the war of words in Halifax. He said Conservative Leader Stephen Harper will be “getting into bed” with Quebec separatists if he joins the Bloc Quebecois to force an election. Martin, who recently secured New Democrat support for his government through a deal that promises $4.6 billion in new social spending, jumped on the same theme in Thunder Bay. “The Bloc Quebecois in Quebec – the separatists – benefit from a premature election and it is beyond belief to me why Stephen Harper wants to play that game,” he told CBC-TV.”

    Doesn’t that raise some questions when these same guys are now trying to form a government with the Bloc?Do you people ever ask questions of Liberals? Geddes? O’Malley? Wheery? Bueller?

  5. Our flag was, of course, on display, as the photographic record proves, but Harper now says it was “off to the side.” (Shame!)

    Yeah, shame on the three party leaders, including the Bloc, for following the Department of Canadian Heritage’s flag protocol. Shame!

    It would be a shame if a photo were to surface of Harper in front of the same protocol flag arrangement. Shame! Shame!

  6. In answer to the question above. Because he is a control freak Has anyone else noted that Peter MacKay looks disgusted?

    Just when I think Harper won’t sink any lower – he manages to do so.

  7. Way to go Millhouse;
    And if I were Sideshow Bob, I too would be outraged that Mayor Quimby let Sideshow Bob out of prison early too.

  8. Just when I think Harper won’t sink any lower – he manages to do so.

    I’ve never doubted his capacity to do so. He started out on the surface over the Marianas Trench. It’s a long way down.

  9. Ok, maybe someone who works in parliament can confirm this for me. I’m assuming that however the flags were set up, they were set up by whoever takes care of the room, not those who booked the room. I cannot imagine that you are allowed to book a room on parliament hill and then move the flags around willy-nilly like you’re setting up your logo on a podium. So even if the flags were displayed incorrectly (which they obviously weren’t) it would not be the fault of those giving a presser.

    Those bringing the flag into this, or using the word “traitor” should be deeply, deeply ashamed of themselves.

  10. Harper is not the Prime Minister – he is the Prime Monster of the House of Commons!

  11. From Skinny DIpper’s blog:

    Here is some information and image of how the Canadian, provincial, and territorial flags should be displayed along a wall:

    With flags of the Canadian provinces and territories

    When provincial and territorial flags are flown with the National Flag of Canada, the order is based on the date of entry into Confederation of the provinces followed by the territories. In a grouping of flags that includes the National Flag of Canada and all of the flags of the provinces and territories, the order of precedence is:

    1. National Flag of Canada
    2. Ontario (1867)
    3. Quebec (1867)
    4. Nova Scotia (1867)
    5. New Brunswick (1867)
    6. Manitoba (1870)
    7. British Columbia (1871)
    8. Prince Edward Island (1873)
    9. Saskatchewan (1905)
    10. Alberta (1905)
    11. Newfoundland (1949)
    12. Northwest Territories (1870)
    13. Yukon (1898)
    14. Nunavut (1999)

    When there are more than three flagpoles/masts, the National Flag of Canada should be flown on the left of the observer facing the flags, followed by the flags of the provinces and territories. An additional National Flag of Canada may be displayed at the end of the line if desired.

  12. That info comes from the Government of Canadian Heritage, by the way.

  13. (or Dept of Canadian Heritage, sorry)

  14. The longer Stephen Harper stays in power, the more he reminds me of Paul Martin. Martin too tried to cast everything in a national unity/patriotism light, when the simple fact is that (Bloc Quebecois aside) most politicians aren’t trying to destroy the country.

    And Bridget, thanks for advancing the discussion.

  15. Thanks, Scott. That’s good to know and makes Harper seem even more foolish for his over-the-top comments.

  16. John D, Scott Tribe and Jonathan,
    Don’t you realize that it DOESN’T MATTER why the flags were arranged the way they were. Harper will use any argument, no matter how disingenuous, to fulfill his agenda. If he thinks it might resonate, he will use it, no matter how deceitful or unfounded it is.
    It’s the way he rolls.

  17. Michael:

    That’s why its important to get it out there to the public that Harper is lying and is a demagogue; saying and doing anything to stay in power.

  18. Agreed. I just am sometimes amazed at the gall of the guy.

  19. Yes Michael, but the secret is out. Nothing resonates anymore. No one but the most frothingly partisan Tories buy Harper’s BS anymore. He’s lost control of the spin. There’s nothing left to do but enjoy the show and talk about silly things like flag placement.

  20. Jesus Christ, if the retards that are perpetuating this flag issue would actually do what Harper evidently didn’t, and check the flag pictures they will notice something.

    Three sets of pictures were taken of the coalition members signing their agreement. One at a table with flags behind them. Another, where they are standing and in a different location, where there are no flags at some angles, and only one flag at others (this one was from Reuters and widely distributed for that reason). Thirdly there are some closeups that also did not display a flag. So it depended what newspaper you read as to whether you would see a flag.

    Canadians are evidently a petty people that have been rewarded with the crappy leaders they deserve. Sit back for a moment and ask yourself if you hold the position you do because it is bad for Harper, not because it is good for Canada (Conservatives should ask the reverse)*.

    *If your issue is the stimulus, just listen to the clarity from John McCallum:

    “It will be less than C$30 billion … it could be a lot less than that,” John McCallum, a Liberal member of Parliament and economic advisor to the party leadership, said of the coalition’s proposed stimulus package.”

    Wow, these guys have a real plan. Jesus Christ, lets just let the British run the country again. Gordon Brown seems to be doing pretty well.

  21. I don’t consider questions about the bloc to be fear mongering. If you are really serious about making democracy work why not bring them fully into the coalition which would give the coalition an absolute majority?

    No one seems to know if it would be constitutional to have a separatist party rule over a country that they want to leave.

    So we end up with a compromise and a deal that reflects a real problem that no one wants to talk about.

  22. Here’s the thing about this total flag nonsense. Although I was at work, I had it streaming live on my computer (thanks to whoever provided the links so I could do that.) I remember thinking as I watched it, “heh, pretty funny Duceppe is the one directly in front of the Canadian flag. I wonder if they did that on purpose?”

    This makes me realize that neither Harper, NOR ANY OF HIS SENIOR STAFF, watched the news conference. Am I the only one who finds that contemptuous of the Opposition in the House to the point of madness?

    Or the only alternative is that they did watch it, and were so incredibly, unbelievably stupid to think they could convince the Canadian public that what was there for all to see wasn’t there at all. Am I the only one who finds that contemptuous of the Canadian people to the point of madness?

    I’ve never thought Harper was a stupid man. I’m eager to hear any and all reasonable alternatives from the explanations above.

  23. Hey, DBC — you read my mind. The Bloc might have a distasteful motive but their MPs are elected representatives of their ridings sitting legitimately in the House. If the Conservatives don’t think it’s acceptable, and they manage to retain power — perhaps they could table legislation making membership in any separatist political organization illegal. Wonder how THAT will play?

    If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’ll agree their argument that the proposed Coalition is seditious is nonsense.

    These Conservatives display the IQ of a fencepost.

  24. hosertohoosier: The coalition lacks the financial data to prepare a detailed stimulus package.

    This is getting scary. The conversation is turning to vitriolic and irrational, and the Canadian voters (who are mimicing those they voted for) are certainly going to suffer for it.

  25. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel – true when Samuel Johnston made the comment in 1775, and just as true now in Ottawa, where a desperate man will resort to any desperate measure to remain prime minister.

  26. “hosertohoosier: The coalition lacks the financial data to prepare a detailed stimulus package.”

    So on what basis, but financial data, do they believe there is a need for a stimulus, or that the Conservative stimulus is inadequate?

    How can they claim to represent an immediate stimulus in contrast to the government, when it will take them time to craft a plan (almost certainly longer than a month)?

    Oh but of course, it is more important to talk about flags and Stockwell Day.

    This country is screwed.

  27. I tell you one thing, I ‘d better see at least four Canadian flags behind Harper on T.V. tonight!


  28. One lousy Canadian flag!

    The same as Gilles Duceppe.

    I’m so disappointed.