Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius

2004/12/20

Seeing Red Again and Again

This will absolutely be my last post on the Red Ensign bloggers. Okay, probably: the potential for silliness on this topic is boundless, and I'm still considering whether an annotation of the Red Ensign Brigade's "manifesto" is worth the effort.

On 16 December I noted that someone in the blogging universe had the fanciful notion that the Liberals had somehow imposed their party colours on the Maple Leaf flag. I apologize. I misremembered and only got part of it right. The actual quote from Jaeger of Trudeaupia reads: "In a move more reminiscent of a banana republic than a respectable democracy, [the Liberals] used their parliamentary majority to impose partisan colours and logos onto a national flag."

Now it is not often one sees not one but four inaccuracies in one short sentence.

1. The flag colours are derived from the Royal Proclamation of 1921, as already noted.

2. The maple leaf has been the symbol of Canada since at least 1830s, if not before. (It might be of some interest that the first time the maple leaf appeared on an official flag was for the Royal Canadian Regiment's colours in 1859.)

3. At no time did Pearson have a majority government. (I suspect the NDP supported the flag bill, and I would be curious if any Tories did, but I haven't been able to determine how the parliamentary vote fell. Yet.)

4. The Liberals did not impose the flag by ramming the bill through Parliament. The flag debate lasted six weeks, and at the end of it, some Tories were begging the Liberals to invoke closure in embarrassment.

(For more details, see the excellent history of Canadian flags and symbols at Alistair Fraser's Flags of Canada site.)

What to make of this history rewrite? To call it revisionist would be charitable, but false. Perhaps the kindest thing one can say is that standards are slipping on the rightward side of things, or perhaps they are victims of the educational system about which they so assiduously complain.

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