Mr. Jean-Frangois Pouliot (Temiscouaia):
Mr. Speaker, I have been most interested to
listen to the very able speeches that have been made by the gentlemen who have spoken on a distinctive national flag, and it is quite refreshing for a member who was a witness to very unpleasant discussions about that matter some years ago to realize the progress that has been made in what may be defined as true Canadian citizenship.
My hon. colleagues have realized the importance that Canada has in all the countries of the world, and we are all for a distinctive Canadian flag. Nobody has disagreed about it, and this is why I mention the fact with satisfaction and pride. It was not always the same. When the first proposal for a committee was made by the late prime minister, a committee to study the suggestion to have a Canadian flag, the Leader of the Opposition was not the hon. gentleman who spoke so well this afternoon. It was Mr. Bracken, and Mr. Bracken moved an amendment to the prime minister's motion saying in effect that it was unnecessary to have a committee to study the flag question but that the country should adopt finally the red ensign which had been chosen by order in council.
I appreciate what the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) has said, but he should clarify his statement about the position of his party, and he must say that his party is not maintaining the same attitude now that Mr. Bracken expressed some years ago when he opposed the motion to form a committee to study the national flag question. I am not going to argue about it at any length. I know the present Leader of the Opposition is sincere about this, but I do not want him to confuse the issue and I want the position to be made clear, his own position and that of his party.
I do not want the flag question to be a political football, to be considered a political issue, and I mean with political partisanship. It is too great and too noble a question. It should be above all party considerations.
Of course the flag must be simple, and it must be easy to make. But what will it consist of? Well, we have an emblem that is recognized the world over, which is the favourite emblem of the army, the air force and even the navy; which is used by many corporations and big transport companies, as well as by private individuals as the distinctive emblem and symbol of our country. It is the maple leaf. The maple leaf is beautiful; it is significant to our country, and when anyone sees a maple leaf on a letter, on the lapel of someone, on the funnel of a ship, or on the cargoes that we are sending to underprivileged countries all over, they think of Canada, the great country we live in and are
so proud of. The maple leaf is well known, and people understand that it has the meaning of Canada attached to it.
Therefore in my humble view the easiest plan to choose would be a flag with a maple leaf on it. There are three colours of the maple leaf, namely green at first, then gold and then red. As to which colour is the most convenient or the most appropriate, it is not for me to decide. But the easiest way to choose a flag from among all the exhibits that have been sent to the committee would be to think of the maple leaf in the first place and, in the second place, to put it on a background of any colour that would be appropriate having regard to the colour which is chosen for the maple leaf. We would then have a truly national flag. There would be no confusion about it. Nobody could be prevented from hoisting the union jack with the Canadian national flag.
If I am in favour of a distinctive national flag it is because I am proud of my country and because I have had many representations from war veterans asking that we should adopt a national flag. In particular, on November 20 from Moncton, New Brunswick, I received this clipping:
The Transcript Letter Box
Moncton, N.B. July 23, 1953.
May I take a few lines to express my opinion. I am a Korean war veteran.
While in Korea I've seen soldiers from many countries of the world fighting together for a common cause. I've seen proud soldiers of France with their red, white and blue flag; soldiers of the United States with their stars and stripes; English soldiers with their union jack, Canadian soldiers with . . . nothing.
We are a great nation and I think it is time Canadians had their own flag.
"O Canada" would make a beautiful national anthem.
We are a nation within the commonwealth. We are a nation, not a "possession".
L. J. Williams,
Lance Corporal, Korean Vet.
That is only one example of the numerous letters which have been sent to the press by war veterans who are extremely anxious that the parliament of Canada shall adopt a distinctive national flag.
As I said, I do not intend to play politics with the matter, but it should not be a political football kicked at the government. I am sure the government is ready to assume its responsibility at any time. When the Prime Minister spoke of unanimity about the flag, it did not mean unanimity amongst all individual Canadian citizens. Such a thing is an impossibility. But in a democratic country we must abide by the will of the majority.
In order to be fair and in order to consult each member of the house about a matter of such great importance, I think the question of choosing a distinctive Canadian flag should be discussed in the caucuses of the various parties and groups and that their whips should get in touch with the chief government whip to inform him that the majority of the members of all parties and groups in this house are in favour of the adoption of a distinctive Canadian flag. That may be done next week, if there are caucuses of the various parties and groups, before we leave for our constituencies, or it could be done a little later on.
I hope it will be done before the Prime Minister leaves for his world tour, so that in all the countries to which he will go he may be greeted by the Canadian flag with the maple leaf on it. I am sure that will have a very good effect all over.
In concluding, Mr. Speaker, let me say that I do not expect a distinctive national flag to be the gift of any political party but rather to be the gift of the parliament of Canada to the Canadian people.
Subtopic: CANADIAN FLAG