I’m a very patriotic Canadian. I don’t spend a whole lot of time raving about how amazing Canada is on this blog, because the majority of my readers are Americans, and because it’s a science blog, and love of country is only loosely connected to trilobites.
But I have come across an outrage that I feel I must address. While surfing Conservapedia (“The Trustworthy Encyclopedia!”) searching for their latest outrageous falsehoods about paleontology, I nonchalantly decided to check out their page on Canada. I figured a 10,000 word rant against “socialized” health care would be a good read.
For the most part, it actually wasn’t that bad! They even felt compelled to note how popular universal health care is in Canada! Maybe this new found warmth for Canadians comes from the fact that while the US has booted out President Bush and his Conservative cronies, Canada has managed to elevate our own conservative hack, Stephen Harper, to quasi-dictatorial status.
But there was one passage in the article that is an affront to all Canadians, and indeed citizens of any country, who consider that their national flag holds a great deal of symbolic power. In fact, American conservatives should be insulted as well, considering their vigorous defense of the stars and stripes.
The new flag was imposed by the Liberal government in an effort to appease socialists and Quebec Nationalists.
That’s right, our flag, the most potent and recognized symbol of Canada, only exists to appease commies and separatists. The article then goes on to suggest that some proud Canadian still fly the Red Ensign, our previous flag and originally a British merchant flag, presumably as a defiant anti-communist gesture. The citation for this claim is an article about Stephen Harper (the quasi-dictator, as I mentioned before) wanting the Red Ensign to fly at the Vimy Ridge memorial.
Now, I have no problem with the RE flying at Vimy, as it was the flag of Canada during the First World War. However, to claim this as evidence that the flag debate in Canada lives seems pretty bizarre. The article also quotes cranky old man John Diefenbaker, as an authoritative source on the flag debate. They fail to mention that the Liberal Prime Minister who adopted the flag, Lester B. Pearson, had unseated Diefenbaker as PM. Diefenbaker had every reason to be bitter at Pearson’s policies.
The main reason Pearson wanted to change the flag, in fact, was because during the Suez Canal crisis, Egypt had objected to the presence of Canadian peacekeeping troops, as their Canadian flag, the Red Ensign, had the Union Jack on it. Pearson recognized the need for a flag that would clearly demonstrate Canada’s independence from Britain. Thus, the Canadian flag was born.
But getting back to the point here. Conservapedia’s claim that the Canadian flag was adopted as a sop to commies and separatists is an insult to everything it symbolizes. Would the very people who wrote the article tolerate a similar demeaning of the US flag? I think not. Conservapedia exists solely as a right-wing propaganda tool, but I would not have expected them to attack patriotic Canadians in this way.
Of course, John Diefenbaker, bless his heart, must be smiling in his grave, having realized that at least one person still stands with him on the Great Flag Debate.