Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The new flag debate

Over at BlogsCanada, Scott Tribe points out the recent anti-flag stance being increasingly taken by some Conservatives. Ezra Levant, for example, has denounced our current flag as 'Liberal':
Canada Day replaced Dominion Day the way the Liberal-red Pearson Pennant replaced the Red Ensign
Scott quite correctly points out the weird a-historicity of this. The Maple Leaf had been a symbol of Canada long before it was made our flag. Look at the accompanying picture of the war medal awarded to participants in repelling the Fenian raids in 1866. There is nothing very remarkable about the medal--with Queen Victoria on the obverse, a flag of victory on the reverse. But look at the field. What's that? Maple leaves. Indeed, this is the only thing about this medal that iconigraphically identifies it as 'Canadian'.

The same point could be made from the cap badge from World War I to the left. What is Canadian here? Again, it is the maple leaf. And here the maple leaf has taken over the whole medal. Clearly, then, the maple leaf was regarded as a national symbol long before it became our flag in 1965.

Where, then, did Ezra and his kind get the idea that Canada's maple leaf is a Liberal flag? 

It presumably comes from the image to the right: the Liberal Party logo, which has been made to look like the Canadian flag.

In doing this, the Liberals have wrapped themselves in the flag, so to speak. But they are hardly alone in this. To the right is the logo of the Liberal Party in Australia.  There is a flag buried there.

Or Bush-Cheney in the last American election.  Again, note the flag theme.

There is nothing exceptional, then, in a political party associating themselves with national symbols, including the flag. What is exceptional is the petulant rejection of those symbols out of a misguided partisan pique.

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