I want my flag back
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Trevor Hutchinson is a songwriter, writer and bookkeeper. He serves as Contributing Editor at The Lindsay Advocate. He lives with his fiancee and their five kids in Lindsay.
If someone had told me three years ago that soon a Canadian flag would make me feel uncomfortable or even angry, I wouldn’t have believed them. But here we are.
A fringe minority, with many links to the far right, has taken my flag, using it as a prop in its quest for so-called freedom. Apparently this band of complainers has never looked up the World Population Review website, which analyzes all countries on 12 different freedom metrics including rule of law, movement and religion. That analysis finds Canada the sixth most free country in the world and far ahead of the U.S., which ranks 14th, and the U.K., which ranks 15th.
Of course, the flames of this grievance are being fanned by the presumptive leader of the Conservative leadership contest. The dumbing down doesn’t end there though. From conspiracy theories to the denigration of our public institutions to the worship of crypto-currencies, this lifelong politician is persuading many Canadians they aren’t free.
Way back in the day, a Canadian flag sewn on my backpack led to great conversations or even a free drink as I travelled (some of) the world. Now, for the moment, I’m not sure that I would sport a Canadian flag, for fear of association.
And that makes me sad. And angry. Everyone has the right to peaceful protest (because, ummm, we live in a free country). But the flag is all of ours. It’s not just for people who attended Facebook University.
Of course, flag debates are not new. The Progressive Conservative party of the time and the Royal Canadian Legion, among others, fought vigorously against our new national flag in the mid 1960s. But over time our flag became accepted and recognized as a symbol for hope and freedom. Not that it represents a perfect country, because we are far from that. It does, however, represent a work in progress towards a greater ideal.
I am hoping that the men’s World Cup of soccer later in the year might be a neutral enough event for us to reclaim it from the anti-vaxxers (or whatever it is they are against.) Because it belongs to all of us, no matter where you sit politically in this free, beautiful and imperfect nation.