November 8, 1945 (20th Parliament, 1st Session)


Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


-the music apparently was not available on that occasion; but I was assured that it was going to be available on subsequent occasions.

Canadian Flag
The other thing I think we should do as soon as possible is to take the right to amend our own constitution. It is a most undignified position for a country which has reached nationhood and has made the contribution to world affairs that Canada has made that we should go across the sea and request an amendment to our own constitution when it is something we should do for ourselves. Once I asked an outstanding member of the British House of Commons-he was not a Socialist, Labour or even Liberal but a Conservative member-just what happened when a request came from Canada to amend its constitution., and he said it would not matter what Canada asked, it would be approved almost without discussion, and certainly with very litde consideration.
Consequently I think that these three things are essential to our nationhood; a flag, a national anthem, the right to amend our own constitution, and indeed the right to interpret our own laws.
I welcome this measure because I believe it is a step in the right direction. Canadian soldiers held the whole of the left flank of the allied armies a year ago in France, Belgium and Holland, and when we were driving along the countryside, as I once before remarked in this house, we saw the flags of all the nations, but there was no flag representing Canada. Canadian soldiers had no symbol of their nationhood which the local population could fly to welcome and honour them, and had I not been convinced before I would have been convinced last autumn, when I had the great privilege of seeing our Canadian boys along the left flank of the allied armies, that Canada needs a distinctive emblem. This is not chauvinistic; this is not the wrong kind of nationalism. There is a kind of nationalism which I think we can decry, but this is a healthy form of respect for our own nation and for those who have built it, who have loved it, and who have died for it.
The minister suggested that we should not this afternoon go into the kind of flag. I am in agreement with him, and therefore when the time comes I shall vote against the amendment. In my opinion this is not the time for such an amendment. I do not deny that a member of the house has a right to move it, but I do not think we should be called upon now to decide what particular kind of flag we should adopt. I wish to see the intent of this resolution carried out. I wish to see Canada with a distinctive flag, and in my opinion the red ensign with, a coat of arms on it, which I would rather say nothing about, is not a distinctive flag.
Hon. members who were at San Francisco will recall the occasion on which we had all the flags displayed, the forty-six nations' flags at the rear of the platform. Canada's ensign was there, but as it appeared in the building all that one could see was a union jack in the corner and the red bunting-no distinctive feature about that flag; nothing to distinguish it from several other flags that were displayed. Even if we cannot agree immediately on the flag that we are going to adopt for our country, I think it would be better to delay the adoption of a flag at this moment than to adopt one that is not distinctive of this country. The flag of the British commonwealth is the union jack, and we respect it, but I am pleased indeed to know that my hon. friends to the right are prepared' to recognize that the time has come when Canada should have a flag of her own.
I was born in Great Britain, and I have distinct recollections of my childhood there. I remember well, though it is now a long time ago, the celebration of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897, when I was quite a small boy. I remember the schoolboys' parade on that occasion. I was in it, and I and others carried a flag. It was not the union jack that I carried, but the cross of St. George, the flag of England, and' I say that if England has the right to carry the St. George's cross, and Scotland the right to carry the cross of St. Andrew- [DOT]

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