Flag rule insults Canada at Vimy's 100th
Vimy Ridge is sacred soil, consecrated by thousands of Canadians, and given to our country by a grateful France. Yet on this ridge purchased by Canadian blood, the Canadian flag was not allowed to take the place of honour at ceremonies marking the centennial of one of our greatest achievements.
Ottawa insists that royal flags always take precedence. And there were royals aplenty. Three princes arrived from Britain. Each had his own personal flag which, says the Department of Canadian Heritage, comes before the Canadian flag. This rule applies to the flags of ALL members of Britain's royal family.
Here at home, the rule is implemented even more widely. It demotes our national flag for personal vice-regal ones--the flags of the governor general and the 10 lieutenant-governors--often removing our flag altogether. As we ushered in our 150th year on January 1, Governor General David Johnston was on Parliament Hill. Because of that, the Canadian flag was quietly removed from the top of the Peace Tower and replaced with his blue banner. This happens even on our highest patriotic day, the First of July. And protocol requires it anywhere one of these officials is on business, or if a British royal is anyplace in the country.
A hundred years ago, we unquestioningly went to war when the motherland asked. We fought as children of an empire for 'king and country', under British command and to British plans at Vimy. But by many accounts, Canada's victory over Germany there, also won us our independence from Britain. Our foreign policy would no longer be decided in London, and by 1931, we were a self-governing dominion. Citizenship followed, then judicial autonomy, our own flag, the Constitution, and the Charter.
We're an independent nation, yet act as a colony. No Canadian has ever appeared on a first-class definitive postage stamp. No coin has ever featured a Canadian on its 'heads' side. No Canadian will yet have appeared on the $20 bill, our most popular. No law prevents us celebrating our people in any of these ways. Yet only monarchs from Britain have occupied these honoured Canadian places -- for over 100 years. Now, in our 150th year, the banners of residents of British palaces continue to usurp the Maple Leaf.
We are not the Canada of 1917. That's why it's insulting that our flag did not take precedence on its own turf at last weekend's Vimy ceremonies. Our boys took that high ground a century ago, and never gave it back. So must we ensure the Maple Leaf never surrenders its position to any other flag. And as we mark a century and a half of nationhood, it behooves the federal government to honour Canadians on our coins and stamps, and to fix an antiquated rule so the Canadian flag always takes first place in its own country -- including at that piece of Canada called Vimy Ridge.
(Editor’s note: An online petition to "Put the Canadian flag first" can be found on Google. It will be presented to Parliament. Mr Adam asks readers to sign online.)