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


Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

This is not the first time, Mr. Speaker, I have refused to follow the crowd. Ever since I came to this parliament I have tried to support definite, concrete principles. In all the years I have known the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) I cannot remember his rising to such heights of oratory as he did this afternoon, since he is a Scotsman I would urge him to remember an old Scotch proverb, that when you go up in the clouds be always sure to keep one foot on the ground. I think that is what my hon. friend is not doing.
We were told by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) in his remarks on the address in reply to the speech from the throne to forget all these secondary things, with the grave problems before us; and to put first things first. He lectured the opposition along that line. I believe we should wait for two years and not raise these questions now that are only secondary and might be left over until we get our soldiers in homes, until we provide houses for civilians, until we obtain coal for the winter, until we provide jobs for soldiers and others, until we solve a great many of the serious and complex economic problems that confront this country. Since I was a child I have always made a point of trying to get on with people. Mind you, sir, sometimes some people are hard to get on with, but I always made it a point in life to try to get on with everybody a,s best I could, I am surprised that the Prime Minister is not in this chamber to-day to support what stands in his name before us and to give effect to the preaching on first things first he delivered in this house on many occasions during the war.
The resolution says it is expedient. It is not. It is a life-line thrown out to those who meet in another place today in connection with this resolution to come over and aid us to change the flag. The resolution says that

Canadian Flag
this action is expedient. I say that in view of the strikes we have in all parts of Canada, it is not at all expedient at the present time to cause strife over the flag. With industrial conditions as they exist in Canada to-day it is not proper for us to divide our people in their expressions of views as to what a flag should be.
I can remember when the hon. member who has just spoken raised a similar question in the house. And, by the way, he is wasting his time as a member of parliament; had he been a comedian he would have made his fortune. Two bishops, one of them in his church and one in mine, have told me that he seems at times to be the only person in the house with any sense of humour. But I can see this, that he is now preparing himself to go over to another place, with its sepulchred walls, and all that sort of thing, to raise the dead, and seek aid to secure a new flag.
I have been much surprised by the suggestions made in the house, because since becoming a member I have stood by certain principles. I believe this matter should await better days; I have the support of a large majority of the people in Ontario when I oppose this move on a secondary matter at the present time.
Mind you, sir, I want to say to my few fine friends who have moved and seconded this amendment, that the red ensign was never the flag of Canada, and never had any official sanction until an order in council was passed on September 5, 1945, hauling the union jack over this house down.
To support my contention in that regard I have the record, and I shall place it on record. On October 1 of this year I asked these questions:
New flag on parliament building tower
Mr. Church:
1. On whose instructions is a new' flag being flown from the tower of the houses of parliament: who authorized it, and when?
2. Who is in charge of such matters, and of this building?
3. Was such an innovation ever authorized by parliament? If so, when?
4. Who authorized and gave the order to haul down the Union Jack?
5. Have instructions been issued for similar action on other government buildings throughout Canada? If so, at what cost?
6. Why is this innovation carried out without the knowledge or consent of parliament now in session ?
The Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) answered:
1. The red ensign is being flown from the tower of the houses of parliament under authority of order in council P.C. 5888, passed on September 5, 1945, copy of which appears below.
That was the first sanction the government of Canada ever gave to the red ensign. Then the answers continue:
2. The Department of Public Works.
3. The red ensign flew from the tower of the houses of parliament from the days of confederation until 1904.
4. 5 and 6. Answered by No. 1.
Let me say to him that that reply is not correct. At no time did parliament authorize the red ensign, until this order in council was passed on September 5, 1945.
I have before me the various proceedings which have been taken in connection with the flag, and in this connection I cannot help thinking what might have been done in another place on this, matter. Every session during the war I have spoken across the chamber to the Prime Minister, when I have seen those in another place going home, meeting and then adjourning, and have suggested to the government that they be given more work, since therq were many able men over there who could so well do war work anid help the war effort.- But not one iota of war work was given to them during the whole period of the war. This is the first time, under this resolution, that we find any effort to ask those in another place to throw out the life-line and to save the government.
This question was discussed in the house on February 16, 1938, at which time there were placed on record representations from the colonial secretary pointing out that all along the union jack has been the flag of the empire, and that the red ensign was never authorized. My former leader, a great Canadian, supported a flag committee. I did not; I have never yet voted against the party, and I will always support it as long as they will support the principles of a united British empire. But I will support no party in Ontario which fails to stand up for its principles. However, my former leader, a great Britisher, the then Right Hon. R. B. Bennett, now Viscount Bennett, was in the -house at that time. On that occasion someone in Saskatchewan named John F. Steadman, and another gentleman named George S. Hodgins, had written the colonial secretary and had asked questions respecting the flag of Canada. They asked in particular if the red ensign was part of it. Their communications were addressed to the secretary of state for the colonies.
On that occasion in 1938 the Prime Minister rose in his place and practically corroborated what my leader had said, that the union jack has always been the flag of Great Britain and

Canadian Flag

of the whole empire, and that it was the official flag of Canada. I will read what was said on that occasion by Viscount Bennett:
It would hardly be correct to say that that was the first official statement as to what the flag of Canada was; for there was a circular showing that the official flag of the whole British empire was what was called the union jack, Hid it was not until long after that that there was any question of any other flag being used. . . .
He means until after those two letters had been written from Saskatchewan. The present Prime Minister in his reply referred to the two letters from Saskatchewan of March 11, 1911, and May 2, 1912-and I am sorry not here to-day-and pointed out that the secretary of state had replied to the governor general, there being no reference to His Majesty or to His Majesty's secretary, that he would be glad if the governor general would cause Mr. Hodgins to be informed that the union flag was the national flag of Canada. .
Therefore it is clear that there is no authorization for the red ensign. This matter was discussed again on February 15, 1939. Speaking in the house on that occasion, I quoted a letter written by the acting under-secretary of state, Mr. W. P. J. O'Meara, in answer to a question regarding an official flag for Canada. Part of that letter was as follows:
The union jack, however, is recognized as the flag to be properly and officially flown on land in Canada.
As regards the Canadian red ensign, there is no law' prohibiting the flying of this ensign on land in Canada. The only regulation of which I am aware respecting the flying of the Canadian red ensign- on land is a special order in council which permits the flying of the ensign over Canada House in London, and the Canadian legations at Paris. Washington and Tokyo. It is also flown on vessels of Canadian registry.
The last sentence is not correct. Since I have come to the house I have numbered among my friends many who come from Quebec, and I hope I shall always do so. -I paid tribute to the French nation in the last war, and on many occasions I have so expressed myself since coming to the house. But I ask hon. members opposite this question : Is this the time or the place, when other vital questions are so complex, for us to haul down the flag, when we have just hauled up the union jack at Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma, and many other places in the British empire, to discuss this matter? At this time, when Great Britain in a grave economic sense is fighting for her very existence, war weary, worn out and seeking food and clothing, and when we in Canada are faced with great questions, should we raise this question? No. Who is responsible for

bringing the matter before the house? Who asked for it? Certainly it was not the opposition; we did not ask for this.
Two years ago I said to the Prime Minister that we were willing to let this matter stand until long after the conclusion of the war, until our soldiers came back, men who could give us advice and guidance. What is the condition to-day? I say that those who have proposed this matter, the government, will have to answer for it before the country
Who is asking for this reform? I can remember last June the Prime Minister of Canada going across this country and making speeches. And may I point out in passing, that in the election campaign I held only one meeting. However, I noticed that the Prime Minister spoke differently in the eight Englishspeaking provinces in connection with some questions from what he did in the other province. Since I have been in the house I never have been one to raise questions which would divide the provinces. I have always believed in the principles of confederation, and the old Cornish battle-cry of "each for all and all for each." What is for the good of one province must be for the benefit of the whole. I am one in this party, to which I have belonged all my life-and my people long before me- who has always followed the principles of the late Sir John A. Macdonald. Those great principles are still carried on by us all these years and in this war and by the government of Canada. What he said in those days is just as relevant to-day. Speaking in Kingston in 1884, he said:
I, therefore, need scarcely state my firm belief that the prosperity of Canada depends upon its permanent connection with the mother ci untry, and that I shall resist to the utmost any attempt, from whatever quarter it may come, which may tend to weaken that union.
Speaking again in 1891, in his last campaign shortly before he died, he said:
For a century and a half this country has grown and flourished under the protecting aegis of the British crown. Under the broad folds of the Union Jack, we enjoy the most ample liberty, we govern ourselves as we please, and at the same time we participate in the advantages which flow with association of the mightiest empire the world has ever seen. As for myself, my course is clear. A British subject I was born and a British subject I will die.
That is still the policy of this country. I ask the hon. member for Temdscouata (Mr. Pouliot)-I am never sure just how that is pronounced; the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. Maelnnis), who is reading a newspaper on the front benches, I think is quite correct when he pronounces it "Temisquata" -does he think this is the right time to bring up these matters? Does he not realize that

Canadian Flag
were it not for the mother country after Dunkirk, with the aid of the dominions alone, and her magnificent fleet, the people of Quebec, the maritimes and Ontario might have suffered invasion? We would have had the concentration camps, the whip, the gestapo, the loud speakers and other horrors of occupation, and thousands of our population would have been shipped away to Germany to work. The mother country, saved us from all this, when she had to go -it all alone after Dunkirk, except for the dominions. There were hundreds of fine young men from Quebec also there, and but for the efforts I have mentioned we would have suffered the awful horrors of war on oUr own soil.
Is this the time and place to 'raise this question? The flag flown by the merchant marine was never the flag of this country. I appreciate that the soldiers may do what they like over there about a flag, because they were saving us from the awful horrors of war and many other things. They have a perfect right to say what flag they want for this country, and for 'that reason I think we should leave the determination of this matter until they all come back.
I am really surprised at the government bringing on a question like this at this time, when we have so many other urgent matters to consider. I would point out that if we on this side of the house agree to this motion we shall be agreeing to five or six other things. The Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent), for whom I have the utmost respect, told us the other day that they are going to consider the abolition of appeals to the privy council. I may say also myself they are going to have a new national anthem, and now we are going to have a new flag. It is intended to abolish appeals to the privy council, to have a Canadian governor general and to make Canada completely independent of the empire. It was suggested in San Francisco that we should join the pan-American union. If we are going to do these things we should tell the mother country at once.
As Mr. Churchill said, it was a miracle that in the last war one million men came from the dominions when they were not asked to come by the mother country. One hundred and thirty thousand of our men fell on the battlefields, and they are buried there in France and Belgium and will remain until the resurrection morning. Those men went over there voluntarily, with their own status of sovereignty and autonomy. They went to the side of the mother country. Thousands and thousands of the boys from my city lie buried to-day in France and Belgium, while many more lost their lives on the seven seas.
I have a high regard for the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes), but I think it would be better if we allowed this question to stand until the boys come home. I say as a member of the opposition that I will not support the motion. I will not consider any change in our flag at the present time. I do not believe this is the time to change it. You can read, sir, what is in some of our newspapers. They are changing their views about the flag all the time. You will not find in the newspapers much, if anything that I say. I am ready to support the policies as to Canada and the empire which our leaders in the past have supported. Do you think the men who represented Ontario in other days would be considering things like this if they were here? Shades of Wallace and McCarthy! I say no.
The Toronto Star says that we are an Ontario party. We are not an Ontario party; we are a national party. We are the only party that has supported these British and empire principles all through the years. I have the highest regard and respect for our present leader. He is a different type of member of parliament and representative in the house from some of those I have known for many years. We have had many able leaders in the past, great men who led our part of the empire, and I always got on well with all of them. Our present leader is a man of very high character, a man who has done a great deal for the people of this country. I met him first in connection with sports in Winnipeg and Toronto years ago. because I am more of a sportsman than a politician.
I notice the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) smiling. I call him the master of ceremonies, which I think is the perfect title. He rises and announces the business of the house, and apparently he wants to discuss the flag all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I ask him first to get rid of the red British flags that are placed outside the homes of our veterans when their chattels are put on the street.on eviction orders. That is what is happening in Toronto and the township of York.

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