Apparently there's an epidemic in Canada. An epidemic of people not being allowed to hang the Canadian flag when they want, where they want. Because of this rash of, uh, flag blocking, the Federal government is taking action to make sure that we the people can hang our flag where we deem appropriate and/or necessary.
And a grateful nation says, "We're doing what now?"
I take it this is the kind of proactive action that the people who voted for the Conservatives to a majority situation last spring were expecting. I can only assume that the economic situation is rosier than the Prime Minister's pessimism would have us believe. Or maybe John Carmichael, Tory MP for Don Valley West knows that a more dangerous threat exists to our nation's flags.
With the support of Heritage Minister John Moore, Carmichael introduced his private member's bill, the National Flag of Canada Act, today. "This proposed law seeks to protect the rights of Canadians to fly their national flag where they live and encourage Canadians across the country to display the national flag, not just on Canada Day or Flag Day, but every day of the year," said Carmichael.
The proposed law would make sure someone is prevent from displaying the flag, as long as it is displayed in a "manner befitting this national symbol," and as long as the flag isn't being used improperly or being desecrated. If you try to get between a man, or woman, and their flag, they will be punished by restraining orders, injunctions, a fine, or a jail term of up to two years. Talk about getting tough on crime.
But is this really a problem requiring immediate government attention? The HuffPost article cites an incident in 2010, where residents of a retirement community in Belle River, ON, were told by the Cooper's Mill Retirement Community homeowners' association that no additions or substitutions were permitted to the exterior of homes without permission, and that included flags. Apparently the association had received complaints from other residents that the flags looked "trailer trashy," but the residents declined to remove their flags. Now the government wants to get their backs in a legal sense.
I'm reminded of all those times some official in the United States government, with fire and brimstone, saying that their country needs, I mean NEEDS, to pass a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. I guess sometimes flag burning happens every day and in such alarming numbers that only a nip/tuck to the constitution can stop the scofflaws. We're not there yet, but the mere fact that our Conservative government's been sitting in Parliament for a week and a half and is already obsessed with protecting the flag has got me worried.
There's an uncomfortable obsession in the U.S. between some people and the flag. And while it would upset me to see the Canadian flag set ablaze, I would never want to see a law stop someone from burning that flag in protest. And while some condo administrator may tell you can't fly your flag, he's a jerk, but he's well within his rights too. After all, don't people buy condos for the dullard uniformity and a stringent rule system that makes it happen. And while it might perhaps be strongly encouraged that people who want to hang a Canadian flag properly should be left to do so, do we really need to make sure no one might enforce a contrary opinion with the threat of a jail sentence.
I guess what I mean to say is this is the type of ridiculousness we've come to expect from the Republicans south of the border. The kind of wedge issue politics that keep government leaders with a black and white mindset in power, as others with a more colourful worldview are kept on their toes. "How can you not be for a law that stops people from preventing the display of our nation's colours," or as Moore put it when Bob Rae accused him of trying to "change the channel," "If the opposition are so inclined this can take up no time and we can pass this by unanimous consent." Message: If it's not such a big deal, then why don't you just let it pass.
For the nation's progressives it's another sign that a Conservative majority just might as well mean a Republican government. Super jails, laws to protect the flag and hard right MPs trying to stymie international funding for abortions, and it seems that some members of the government don't mind inflating the perception that some of the nightmares of Canada's left are coming true. But it will be alright. Take one flag pin and call us in the morning, because if you don't they'll report you.