During the election campaign, we will always come up with new and unexpected issues. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that the position of the Canadian flag on federal buildings would come into play.
The decision to fly the national flag at half-mast is not one to be taken lightly. It is an expression of collective sorrow on the part of a nation. There are well-established federal protocols for when and for how long the national flag is to be flown. The flag is lowered on the death of senior members of the British royal family, former prime ministers, governor generals and others whose deaths are considered to be of national importance. The prime minister has the discretionary ability to fly the flag even for unique tragedies.
Some Canadians felt that it was inappropriate to lower the national flag in response to the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves belonging to children at the sites of former residential schools. When the flags came down on May 30, however, no one realized what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had oddly ordered to be lowered indefinitely. As we approach the four-month mark with our national flags flying at half-mast, Canadians are asking when the flags will be raised back.
Nobody really wanted to ask in the first place. Who wants to appear so insensitive to question the serious expression of sadness at such a tragic situation? In August, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole took the chance and called for the flag to be raised again. During the debate, he reiterated this point and set 30 September as the flag hoisting date as it would be the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It appears to be a good and symbolic day to choose to return the flag to the top of the pole. Unfortunately, electoral politics has come into play and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has said that only indigenous leaders have the right to decide when the national flag will be flown again.
Trudeau’s stance has hopelessly politicized the issue, and if he is re-elected it is impossible to say when the flags might be raised again. Not every First Nations leader is of equal mindedness on issues. How on earth will we be able to determine when as a whole would like to see the First Nations flag flown again? Now anyone who dares to fly the flag will be accused of insulting the natives of Canada.
When the flag is always lowered, the importance of lowering the flag is diminished. Meanwhile, other events and rituals are taking place and we are not able to lower the flag to honor them. National Memorial Day for Victims of Terrorism and Firefighters National Memorial Day has come and gone without the symbolic diminution of the flag. Other festivities, including Remembrance Day, are approaching, and if we can’t lower the flag for that, we may end the practice altogether.
Canada is known for all talk and no action when it comes to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Our indefatigable quality sign with the national flag is no exception. This gives the impression that the government is doing something when in reality they have not done anything. If anything, this flag hoisting could actually hinder genuine efforts at reconciliation.
Now that every prominent leader of the party has clarified their stand on the issue, it has become a formal election issue. If the Conservative Party wins the election, the flag will have a set date to return to full mast. If the Liberal Party wins, we all know that flags may remain down until a change of government in a future election. It is shameful and frankly disgraceful that a national symbol like our flag can be seen embroiled in such political slurs.
The world is going through one of the biggest challenges of a generation with the COVID-19 pandemic. Citizens are tense and divided like never before. We need to see some optimism and feel a little proud as a nation. Canada Day was already lost in the self-flagellation fervor over the residential school tragedy. We cannot continue to live in a perpetual state of self-loathing and forgiveness. Raising the flag again does not mean that we should consider the issue of residential schools closed. It simply means that we have moved beyond the initial period of national mourning and now want to unite to move forward with real action on reconciliation.
Unfortunately, our flag has shamefully become a political football and may remain so for some time to come.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times