January 23, 1935

LIB

A CANADIAN FLAG

PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS


Mr. C. II. DICKIE (Nanaimo) moved: That, in the opinion of this house, a national flag representing the Dominion of Canada should be adopted; and that in any design for a Canadian flag the union jack must be conspicuous. He said: Mr. Speaker, I anticipate that objection will be taken to this resolution by some hon. members, by contending that the union jack is ample for the requirements of Canada. The seconder of this resolution, the hon. member for Mount Royal (Mr. White), and I have lived at least as long as anyone else in this assembly under the aegis of the union jack and there is in the house no one who has a greater appreciation of and a more profound regard for the union jack than have the mover and seconder of this resolution. We consider, however, that having reached the full status of nationhood, Canada should have a distinctive flag of her own. People will say that the union jack is good enough. This does not detract in any way from our regard for the union jack, but we think we should have a distinctive flag that we can call truly Canadian. Australia and New Zealand under practically the same conditions as we are, years ago decided that they should have distinctive flags of their own, and no objection was raised to their doing so. Each of them has now a beautiful, artistic flag of which they are very proud. New Zealand and Australia have each a blue flag with the union jack in the upper corner and the beautiful constellation of the Southern Cross on the fly. I contend that we have a perfect right, without any regard to the College of Heralds, to have a flag somewhat along those lines. At the present time the only flag we have for Canada is that known as the red ensign. In 1892 the Dominion government passed a regulation allowing the arms of Canada to be placed on the red ensign for mercantile purposes. It has since been contended by many that we have no legal right to fly the red ensign on land as we are doing at present, so why not have a flag that we can be proud of, that we can fly on all occasions, and especially when our doing so will not detract one iota from our regard for the union jack? A Canadian Flag



Obviously, if this resolution should carry, as I hope it will, a committee will be appointed to consider the design of a flag. It is premature at this time to consider what that design would be more than what I have suggested in the house. I am, however, impelled to say that my opinion would be that a flag consisting of a bright delphinium blue ground on which would be placed the union jack in a dominant position in the upper corner next the staff and on this blue fly an autumnal-coloured maple leaf, would be artistic and beautiful, would appeal to all our citizens, and would be a source of inspiration to our school children. We would be pleased indeed to see a flag along some such lines adopted. The design however is to be a matter for further consideration and it is not necessary to take up any more of the time of the house now. When this debate closes I of course reserve to myself the right to make explanations and perhaps enlarge further on arguments in favour of the resolution before the house.


CON

Robert Smeaton White

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. S. WHITE (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, I can add little to the remarks of the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Dickie) and to those addressed to the house on this subject in previous sessions. I am well aware that in a matter of sentiment that dearly touches the heart of every British subject, logic has a poor chance of success. But I would say to those who think so, it is not proposed by the resolution in any way to destroy, weaken or detract from the flag under which we have lived for many centuries and which we reverence in our hearts.

There is nothing new in this suggestion. Canada to-day has a Canadian flag floating upon the sea and differing in appearance from the union jack of Great Britain by reason of having upon the fly the dominion coat of arms. If there be no objection in sentiment or for any other reason to a distinctive flag upon the sea, what objection in logic can be made to a distinctive flag upon the land? Other parts of our empire have their own distinctive flags. South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and for all I know, possibly some other parts of the British commonwealth have their own distinctive flags, and if we in Canada desire to have a union jack which, upon some part of it will indicate that it represents that portion of the British commonwealth which we call Canada, we are certainly not parting with a flag we reverence and we certainly are not breaking the bonds of empire.

I recall, in speaking of the flag, a remark of the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie who for

five years was Prime Minister of this country, and who attended a dinner given in the city of Saint John in 1876 to the United States consul of that city. At this dinner was present Mr. James G. Blaine, subsequently a Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States. Behind the head table was displayed the flag of the United States and the flag of Great Britain. Mr. Mackenzie in referring to them said, I hope that the amity and peace which the two countries have enjoyed for so many years will continue in perpetuity, and their flags .be entwined in harmony, the one bearing upon it the evidence of the might of the Creator, the starry heavens, and the other the emblem of His greatest work, the redemption of man. A very beautiful description, it seems to me, of the flags of the two countries. I would be among the last to suggest or approve any action that would in any way whatsoever mutilate that flag.

The union jack itself is a product of evolution. It has not always been the flag that it is to-day. Cross upon cross has been added. All that is proposed is that upon the union jack there shall be placed, instead of the coat of arms of the dominion, which is indecipherable and not by any means a thing of beauty or a joy forever, some emblem such as the maple leaf that will typify Canada, so that the flag will proclaim to all who view it that it represents that part of the British empire which is called Canada.

Mr. CAMERON R. McINTOSH (North Battleford): Mr. Speaker, the resolution moved by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Dickie) and seconded by the hon. member for Mount Royal (Mr. White) is not anything new in the way of a flag resolution in the House of Commons of this country. Practically the same resolution has been before the house for years. Last year there was a vote taken on the question. In 1933, and for years before, I had the honour to move a resolution with regard to the same subject. The position I took in 1933,-the same as the position I take to-day,-was that because of the economic situation prevailing in Canada the question of a distinctive national flag for Canada might remain in abeyance at least for a year or more. My reason, as put on record at that time, was that we ought to devote ourselves with all earnestness and expedition to ameliorating social and economic conditions in the country. To-day all I desire to do is to draw the attention of the house to the fact that the resolution is not a new resolution. I might say that in one regard the resolution

A Canadian Flag

now before us is weaker than the one last year, because in the last line the hon. member for Nanaimo would appear to be compromising on the position of the union jack in Canada's national flag. I wonder if that is part of the government's reform program.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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CON

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

Do you want the resolution

carried in regard to a Canadian flag?

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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LIB

Cameron Ross McIntosh

Liberal

Mr. McINTOSH:

What I want is, as

expressed in the resolution of other years, that the union jack occupy the position of honour. With that view practically every member of His Majesty's loyal opposition voted last year for the resolution as moved by the hon. member for Nanaimo, but this year as I have mentioned it would appear that he is compromising on the importance of the union jack in Canada's national flag.

In conclusion may I say that I am not going to debate the matter at present, all I want to say is that the program of social and economic reform mentioned by the Prime Minister and backed apparently by the government should be brought down in this house without a moment's delay, and that we are ready to back that platform as far as it is correct and in the interests of all the Canadian people. I am in conformity with the statement of my leader when I say that there should be no time lost, that program of reform ought to be brought down promptly, and because of the urgency for action in this regard, this flag resolution should be held in abeyance for the time being.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss AQNES MAGPHAIL (Southeast Grey):

Mr. Speaker, just in order to make it unanimous I wish to say how very heartily I approve, and I am sure all in this corner approve, of a national flag for Canada. The fact that we have not had one I think is an indication of our lack of nationhood, that we are still toddling and not walking. If we were not afraid of being ourselves I think we would have bad a national flag some time ago. I for one do not think that it would have affected Canadian loyalty to the British empire. I think that now everyone has arrived at that conclusion, that we really can have a flag of our own and still not declare to the world that we fear that by doing so we shall endanger the British empire. Therefore, I just wish to say these few words in support of the motion. Possibly to take a vote on it will occupy such a little time that it would not unduly delay the reform program.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. R. MacNIOOL (Toronto Northwest) :

Mr. Speaker, the resolution before

the house is, as the hon. member for North Battleford (Mr. McIntosh) said, one that has been introduced here before for a number of sessions. It is getting to the stage of becoming a hardy perennial. If this country were not in the state that it is at the present time, along with all the rest of the world, such that we should be devoting every moment of our time to the consideration of matters designed to relieve unemployment and other pressing questions, it would be all right to spend time on a resolution of this nature, one that is more or less educational. However, as the resolution is on the order paper I believe that it should be discussed, and I say right at the beginning that I am opposed to the resolution.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

He is from Toronto.

Mr. MaoNIOOL: Some hon. gentleman on the opposite side said something about my home city. It is a great city, and I do not need to rise in this house and express its sentiment in this regard. That sentiment is for the union jack, as I believe is well known. Each city has as much right to its own opinion in regard to our flag or in regard to any other matter as any other city. I do not look upon this as a question to be discussed from the standpoint of the city from which a member comes, or from the standpoint of patriotism either.

A moment ago it was said that logic will not enter into this discussion. I propose to use only logic in arguing that the situation in Canada, so far as the flag is concerned, should remain as it is at present. I have made some study of the origin of flags, as perhaps other members have. So far as I can ascertain the first mention of flags, emblems or ensigns is in the second chapter of Numbers, verses 1 and 2:

And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying. Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house-

As I see it, the flags that we fly in Canada pertain to the flags of the houses of the fathers of at least the two great major races in this country, and there is nothing on those flags to offend any other race.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

They might put on a burning bush.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Such a design might be

offered if this question went to a committee. Later on I will point out what happened when resolutions of this nature were sent to committees of other houses, and designs came from those committees.

A Canadian Flag

What was the reply to that letter? The Sons of England Benefit Society wrote under date of February 5, 1934, as follows, in reply to the letter from the Native Sons of Canada:

The copy of the proposed Canadian national flag was duly received and considered, and I was instructed to advise you that the members of the supreme council of the Sons of England Benefit Society are strongly opposed to any change in our flag, feeling that the union jack is good enough for Canada and is a flag that we are proud to live under.

I should like to read a letter in reply to the foregoing which may give an insight into what may be behind this agitation, although I should like to have it understood that I am not imputing any particular motive. I would ask hon. members to listen to this letter:

Toronto, February 6, 1934. Supreme Secretary,

Sons of England Benefit Society,

Toronto.

Dear Sir:-

We wish to thank you for your letter of February 5 in which you state that you are strongly opposed to any change in our flag, feeling that the union jack is good enough for Canada and is a flag that we are proud to live under.

So far, we have not raised any question in regard to the union jack but, as you bring the matter up, we would like to point out to you that there has been a change in the constitutional position of Canada in the past few years because on December 11, 1931, was passed the statute of Westminster which established the British commonwealth of nations and as a result of which Canada is no longer a part of the British empire.

Canada, Mr. Speaker, is a part of the British empire, and I hope it will long remain part of it.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Who signed the letter?

Mr. MaoNIOOL: It is signed by Frank G. J. McDonagh, national secretary. But I have not read all of it; the rest of it may provoke further questions. The letter continues :

Canada is no longer a part of the British empire but is a nation member of the British commonwealth of nations and an equal partner in the same. There is a distinct feeling in Canada that there is nothing in the union jack in any way Canadian in the sense that a national flag should represent the sovereignty of the people.

Our flag goes back a long way into the history of the two great races which early formed this country. The first cross on our flag, St. George's, came from Normandy and was placed there in the year 1194 by the Norman King of England, Richard I. The letter continues:

(Mr. MacNicol.l

The union jack represents the sovereignty of the people of the united kingdom and neglects anything concerning Canada, when it is considered as a flag that is good enough for Canada.

Listen to this:

Some years ago, when there was a discussion as to a Canadian flag, certain organizations, among which I believe was your own, took the stand that the union jack should be the sole national flag for Canada and the thought occurs to me that possibly, because of the stand of your organization and some others, the union jack may be forced off the Canadian flag.

What would happen to a resolution of this kind if it were sent to a committee a principal member of which had in his mind forcing the union jack off the Canadian flag? I have great respect for the views expressed by other hon. members in this connection. I know that they are as loyal as any people could be, and I do not approach the subject from the standpoint of loyalty; that does not enter into the discussion. I take the stand that our marine flags are distinctively Canadian, perhaps more so than the flags of either Australia or New Zealand are of those dominions, and just as distinctive as one of the flags of India, One Indian flag has superimposed upon it what represents the sun, and the sun shines over the whole of the earth's surface. The two Canadian marine flags are not only distinctive of our national races but emblematic of Canada.

If the union jack which flies across Canada were in competition with the flags of other countries on this continent there might be some cause for agitation to pull it down and place another in its place. But there is not. The fact is that there is no competition in the north half of America with the union jack. We are told that because of necessities of our three legations we should change our flag. I communicated with the Department of the Secretary of State and was informed that our Canadian merchant marine flag, the red ensign with the shield of our coat of arms upon it, is the flag which flies over those legations, including the high commissioner's office in London. I should be very sorry, Mr. Speaker, to see pulled down that flag which has flown over this country for so long, merely to meet the fancied needs of our legations.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. VINCENT DUPUIS (Laprairie-Napier-ville):

Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time simply to give to hon. members sitting to your right some advice which may shock the Prime Minister. I should like to tell them in this connection to follow the policy of laissez-faire. It is all very well to talk about flags and to advance a policy of flag waving for the next

A Canadian Flag

election, but to my mind there is something higher and more important than the emblem, no matter how interesting and worthy of respect it may be. We must think of bread and work, and money in the pockets of our Canadian people. If hon. members opposite have any flag to offer I will suggest that they place upon it a loaf of bread, a pie and a shovel.

It is easy to understand the tactics adopted by hon. member's opposite. I shall take my seat very shortly and they may proceed to do whatever they wish, but I must say it would appear that they are not prepared to proceed with their policy. Our revered chief urged them to proceed, but they have not done so. I say they have not because they are not ready. Hon. members sitting on this side are ready to do something for the Canadian people, but our friends opposite talk about flags because they are not ready. So far as the flag is concerned I would suggest that for the time being we let well enough alone. Let us at this time follow the policy of laissez-faire, so far as the flag is concerned and do something for our Canadian people. Some hon. members urge that this is not a government motion. Hon. members sitting around me know very well that our friends opposite are simply talking about nothing at all so thejr may have time to proceed with their policy. Why did they not adopt the motion of last year w'hich was presented by an hon. member on this side of the house?

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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CON

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

He did not make it last year.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

Yes he did.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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CON

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

No, he did not; it was made by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Dickie).

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

He made it two, three and four years ago.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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CON

William Gordon Ernst

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ERNST:

And before you were in the house.

Topic:   A CANADIAN FLAG
Subtopic:   PROPOSAL FOR A NATIONAL EMBLEM ON WHICH UNION JACK SHALL BE CONSPICUOUS
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January 23, 1935