February 14, 1962

PC

Laurier Arthur Régnier

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Regnier:

Within the last few months the Liberal party have promised to give the Canadian people, within one year of attaining office, a distinctive Canadian flag, and the New Democratic party also stands behind this promise to give Canadians a distinctive national flag.

I am reminded by the hon. member for Essex East (Mr. Martin) that in 1945 the Liberal party promised to give Canada a distinctive national flag in the speech from the throne, part of which I should like to read. This is to be found at page 8 of Hansard for September 6, 1945:

Honourable Members of the Senate:

Members of the House of Commons:

My ministers believe that the position attained by our country among the nations of the world makes it desirable that Canada, like the other nations of the British commonwealth, should possess a distinctive national flag. You will be asked to appoint a select committee of members of both houses of parliament to consider a suitable design for a Canadian flag.

As a matter of fact there was such a joint committee appointed. It sat for nine months over the period of two years. After 12 years of Liberal regime we still have not a distinctive national flag. That we have no distinctive national flag is established by the fact that all political parties are promising such a flag. We would not promise something that we have; we are promising something that we have not.

That there is a popular demand for a distinctive national flag is also established by the fact that all political parties have included such a proposal in their platforms. This shows there is a demand for it, because no political party promises things the people do not want.

As we all owe allegiance to our respective political parties, we are all committed to giving Canadians a distinctive national flag. However, we have not succeeded in doing this and therefore the only way we can determine the question is by holding a referendum. The matter of a referendum was suggested in 1946 by a member of the committee set up to study this matter. I quote from page 130 of the proceedings of that committee. Mr. Han-sell, the then hon. member for Macleod, said:

I do have a suggestion to make. It is not along the line of a motion at all. I do not know whether it will be acceptable to the committee, but I should like to see these two flags submitted to the people of Canada and let them decide. I think it would be well worth the time and money that would be involved. Let them decide.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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?

Hon. Mr. Howden@

In what way?

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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?

Ernest George Hansell

Mr. Hansell:

By way of a plebiscite.

Then at page 130 Mr. Hansell said in part:

Here is my point-and this could very well be done without taking any political sides at all. When the next election comes along. I suggest that a referendum be taken at that time. The parties do not have to kick the thing around as a political measure. All they have to do is this. When the people go to elect their government, they are also given another ballot with two designs put on the ballot. You are not voting Liberal, Conservative, Social Credit, C.C.F. or anything else. That is a separate matter altogether. That can be done without costing the country a dollar except for the printing of the paper with the two 26207-1-56

Flags of Canada

designs on. Let the people mark X opposite the one or the other design. That I say is a reasonable suggestion.

I believe this is the only way we can arrive at a solution regarding the flag, to take it out of politics and to let the people, on the same day as they vote to elect a new government, decide on the type of distinctive national flag they want. A member of the 194546 committee, Mr. MacNicol, the then hon. member for Davenport, made a study of some 2,409 designs which had been submitted.

He worked at it for 25 hours, and here is his report. In fact, when the special joint committee on a distinctive Canadian flag met for nine months in 1945 and 1946, after studying the 2,409 designs which had been submitted at that time, that is what Mr. MacNicol found: of the 2,409 designs submitted, 1,611 showed a maple leaf, which means two in three, or 67 per cent; 383 had a union jack, that is, one in six, or 16 per cent; 231 had stars; 184, fleurs-de-lis; 116, a beaver; 49, a crown; 22, a cross, and 14, the great bear. So, 67 per cent were in favour of a maple leaf, 16 per cent were for a union jack and the remaining 17 per cent were for something else.

Now, this was the work of Canadians who wanted a distinctive Canadian flag; it represented the opinions of Canadian people who were interested in getting a national flag for their country. However, the committee did not accept the result of any of this work. It did not accept anything, because we have not got a Canadian flag yet. I do not want to repeat what I said last year when I spoke on this subject, so I am going to ask this house to decide, once for all, one thing-to take this matter out of politics and let the nation choose.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Oscar William Weichel

Progressive Conservative

Mr. O. W. Weichel (Waterloo North):

Mr. Speaker, it is a distinct honour and privilege to take part in this debate on the resolution now before the house which has been brought forward by my esteemed friend the hon. member for St. Boniface (Mr. Regnier) who, no doubt, has given much time and thought to such a proposal.

During the month of January, 1961, I had the pleasure of participating in a similar debate, and at that time I heartily agreed that we should have a distinctive flag-one that would be easily recognized and unlike any other, also one that would be visible at a distance, characteristic in structure, and appropriate for all purposes. It should be symbolic of our country and of our position as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

A few years after the first great war, we remember that in a royal proclamation of November 21, 1921, the King declared:

Flags of Canada

The King, at the request of Canada, assigns to Canada the national colours white and red and declares that the national emblem of Canada shall be three red maple leaves on one stem on a white field. These shall be used to represent Canada on all appropriate occasions.

In making this declaration His Majesty had in mind a separate flag for Canada, such as those used by other members of the commonwealth of nations.

The dominion command of the Canadian Legion passed the following resolution in 1958:

Be it resolved that this convention requests the federal government to place the selection of a Canadian national flag before the people in the form of referendum using,

A. The flag recommended in the majority report of the parliamentary committee of July 1946 or,

B. The flag recommended by the minority report of the same committee.

Such a resolution expresses the fine interest in this subject taken by this great organization, and no doubt also gives the opinion of other organizations made up of army, navy and air force personnel, especially on the question of a referendum concerning a distinctive flag.

On a previous occasion I have mentioned that I am in favour of a referendum concerning the adoption of a distinctive Canadian flag, and I believe my views are shared by many people in my constituency of Waterloo North as well as in other parts of Canada.

To substantiate my views I should like to place on record some remarks quoted by an hon. member of this house some time ago. They appeared in a clipping from the Kitch-ener-Waterloo Record, the leading newspaper of Waterloo North and one of the finest in Canada. Here is what that paper had to say on February 27, 1954:

Reports from Australia indicate that Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh are receiving a tumultuous welcome wherever they go. The Australians are giving a wonderful demonstration of loyalty at this first visit of a reigning sovereign to their country.

The fact that Australians have a distinctive national flag of their own isn't cooling their loyalty to the crown in the least. Opponents of a distinctive flag for Canada, please note.

During the last ten years, many new Canadians have made their homes in our fair land, and Waterloo North with its many ethnic groups received a great proportion of these people. Some of these folks were amazed when on their arrival in Canada they saw two flags flying from many of our buildings. This has also been very noticeable to many of our friends from other lands who have been privileged in visiting our great country.

Today many of our youth-who will be our citizens of tomorrow-are deeply interested in a distinctive flag. Their argument could well be: If the youth of other countries have their own flag, why not we?

About three years ago I was privileged, along with distinguished members of this house and their wives, to visit West Germany as guests of this government. On leaving Frankfurt we journeyed to Bonn, the seat of the West German government, where we were privileged to attend their parliament in session, at which time we received a warm ovation from the members. The point I am trying to convey to you, Mr. Speaker, is that on our way from the hotel to the parliament buildings we were greeted by thousands of German children who lined the sidewalks, waving their national flags. This demonstration convinced me of the need of a distinctive flag for Canada.

During the first and second great wars my people and myself have been honoured in serving our country and showing the greatest respect and loyalty to the union jack and to the red ensign. Throughout my service I shall always remember the great friendship and hospitality extended to me by the people of the United Kingdom, and after 40 years these memories have never faded from my mind.

However, I support the proposal that there should be a distinctive flag for Canada as a result of a referendum at which time the people of this country can express their views. I am of the opinion that a committee should then be set up to make the final choice on a national flag for Canada. This house with its many veterans who served their country with distinction could well carry out these obligations.

(Translation):

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Robert B. Lafrenière

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert Lafreniere (Quebec-Monlmo-rency):

Mr. Speaker, at the end of May 1959, I had the opportunity of expressing my views in the house on the question of a flag. I do not intend to repeat today what I said then. 1 shall merely say that at that time I declared myself in favour of a distinctive flag for our country.

The measure before us today involves a different point of view. First of all, I must congratulate the hon. member for St. Boniface (Mr. Regnier) for his unceasing efforts towards the adoption of a Canadian flag. In that respect, he took some very commendable steps. However, I must disagree with him today since the matter under consideration is the advisability of a referendum on that issue.

It is obvious that all or most Canadians are anxious to have a Canadian flag. Now, as to

whether it should be a truly distinctive national flag or whether it should include the emblems of the countries of origin of the two largest ethnical groups in Canada, that, I feel, is a question the house is able to decide, and I am convinced that such a procedure would be truly democratic.

Indeed, all those who sit in this house have been elected by the people; they are duty-bound to respect fully the mandate they have received and which is to manage the affairs of the country and to settle important national issues such as the flag issue. Consequently, in this case as in other instances, it is important that we take our responsibilities. Besides, it is easy for a member to know what the majority of his constituents feel because circumstances enable him to stay in contact with them practically all the time. Therefore, I submit that a referendum would not be necessary and, as far as I am concerned, I have no hesitation in stating on behalf of my electors and in my own name that I am completely in favour of a distinctive Canadian flag.

I wish to add that the population of the Quebec-Montmorency riding which I am proud to represent in this house is composed of persons of various racial origins. Of course, the majority of the population is French, but we also have many English, Irish and Scotch people as well as people of other origins, although these are fewer in number.

I have consulted persons representing all those groups about the flag and they are unanimous in calling for a distinctive Canadian flag. That is why I earnestly ask the government of which I am a member to take all necessary steps in order to speed up the adoption of a flag for Canada.

I hold in high respect the countries of origin of the two main racial groups in Canada. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, France and England command our respect through the strength of their institutions and the greatness of their cultures, from which we have derived so much benefit. But many Canadians, myself among them, claim that Canada is an adult nation which should clearly identify itself by means of a distinctive flag. The Liberals spent 20 years discussing this matter.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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?

An hon. Member:

You, yourselves, are doing the very same thing.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Robert B. Lafrenière

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lafreniere:

The hon. member for Bona-vista-Twillingate (Mr. Pickersgill) now wants two flags.

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Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Louis-Joseph Pigeon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pigeon:

Preposterous.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Robert B. Lafrenière

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lafreniere:

But if, to suppose the impossible, a Liberal government were elected, then, with two flags, the discussions would surely last 40 years.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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LIB

Augustin Brassard

Liberal

Mr. Brassard (Lapointe):

You are talking out this measure.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Robert B. Lafrenière

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lafreniere:

Mr. Speaker, I know

through experience that the present government will carry out this important project sooner than the hon. members opposite would. I am convinced that the Conservative government will give our country a distinctive national flag.

(Text):

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Louis-Joseph Pigeon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pigeon:

I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Opposition. Does he agree with the opinion of the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate with respect to the flag?

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Henry Carwithen McQuillan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. H. C. McQuillan (Comox-Alberni):

Mr. Speaker, some time ago in this house I made clear my own feelings on the question of a flag. We so often hear reference to a distinctive Canadian flag but I have as yet to hear anyone define what a distinctive Canadian flag would be. For my part I want nothing better than the flag I see flying atop the peace tower when I approach the House of Commons each morning. When I say that I believe I speak for the vast majority of the people of British Columbia.

I feel for my part that if this motion were framed in a different manner I could support it wholeheartedly. I could support it if it were to state: Are you in favour of a flag for Canada which would include the union jack? That is the way most people in my province feel about it. Some hon. members will have visited British Columbia and noticed that we are following the trend in Canada. We have a provincial flag which portrays the union jack but in a rather unattractive way. I feel that the "fried egg" at the bottom of the flag completely destroys the whole effect, but at least the union jack forms an important part of the flag.

The people of British Columbia are attached to the union Jack. The first settlers came to the province knowing they were coming to a country that was under the union jack. While they have been anxious to achieve independence as part of the Canadian nation they have not wanted entirely to cut themselves off from this affiliation with what, to those pioneers who established the province, was their mother country.

Flags of Canada

With all due respect to the ethnic groups that might have moved into the area in recent years I think it is extremely unfair to ask that we of Anglo-Saxon descent entirely cut ourselves off from something that is dear to us and was very dear to our forefathers.

Many people recommend that the maple leaf be incorporated in the Canadian flag. I remind hon. members that the maple leaf could represent only a small area of Canada. I do not think many people are aware that the maple tree grows in probably only 5 per cent of the land area of Canada, in a narrow strip along the southern portion of the eastern central and maritime provinces. The northern part of the provinces of Quebec, Newfoundland and Ontario are devoid of maple trees as are the prairie provinces, unless some have been artificially established there. Much of British Columbia, too, is devoid of maple trees.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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?

An hon. Member:

The prairies are devoid of any trees.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Henry Carwithen McQuillan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McQuillan:

The maple leaf is not truly representative of Canada by any means. In fact, many children reach maturity without ever seeing a maple tree and so its appearance on our flag would not be meaningful to them.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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?

An hon. Member:

The flowering dogwood would be nice.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Henry Carwithen McQuillan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McQuillan:

As the hon. member has suggested, the dogwood would be much prettier, but if we were going to have a tree on our flag, why not the spruce, because the spruce grows in every province in Canada?

I have expressed my feeling in this respect and I believe it reflects the feeling of the greater part of the people of British Columbia, certainly the great majority of those who live in the constituency of Comox-Al-berni. We would be not only loathe to see but would resent deeply any attempt to remove the union jack in its entirety from the Canadian flag.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Louis-Joseph Pigeon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pigeon:

I wish to ask a question of the Leader of the Opposition.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

He has not said anything yet.

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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PC

Paul Raymond Martineau (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The Chair recognizes the hon. member for Maisonneuve-Rosemont.

(Translation):

Topic:   FLAGS OF CANADA
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR REFERENDUM ON ADOPTION OF CANADIAN FLAG
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February 14, 1962