Veterans miffed at Quebec premier over Fleur-de-lis in poppy

MONTREAL – The premier of Quebec has swiftly removed a Fleur-de-lis pin from her lapel after some veterans complained Friday about her wearing it inside a Remembrance Day poppy.

A spokeswoman for Premier Pauline Marois said she wasn’t trying to offend anyone by combining the Quebec emblem with the red poppy.

“Her objective was not to create a controversy,” said her director of communications, Shirley Bishop.

“Madame Marois has a lot of respect for veterans and a lot of respect for all the people who’ve lost their lives for their homeland. The fact of putting a Fleur-de-lis was not at all, not at all, a political act…

“She’ll continue to wear the poppy but, given the controversy, whe will not put the Fleur-de-lis.”

The sudden sartorial reversal came after complaints from a veterans’ group Friday.

The Royal Canadian Legion said some of its members were insulted that Marois stuck the Quebec symbol inside the poppy she’d been wearing in the legislature this week.

Margot Arsenault, the Legion’s provincial president, accused the Parti Quebecois premier Friday of playing politics.

“I find it’s very political and right now the veterans are very, very, very upset because they fought for Canada not just for Quebec,” she said Friday. “We are in Canada. If she wants to wear the poppy she should just wear it like it is.”

She said she’d even sent a letter to the premier saying it’s not proper to wear the poppy with a pin inside.

Arsenault, whose father was a veteran, said the poppy is a Royal Canadian Legion symbol and nothing should be attached inside — even the Canadian flag.

“The poppy is the Royal Canadian Legion symbol and nothing is to be worn inside like a pin — whether it’s the Canadian flag or anything. We’re not supposed to,” Arsenault said.

She said she received about 15 phone calls and about a dozen emails yesterday from veterans who complained the premier’s gesture was not acceptable.