I want my flag back

By Trevor Hutchinson

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.

25 Comments

  1. Carole Stanton says:

    So insulting.

  2. Duane Harrison says:

    Such an entitled sod !

  3. William says:

    With:

    -the convoy and anti-vaccine/mandate protesters
    -the increasingly frequent use of the notwithstanding clause by multiple provincial governments (including Quebec’s racist anti-religious symbols law and their new anti-every-language-that-isn’t-French law, Ontario’s election law tampering, and Alberta’s proposal to become another Quebec that ignores federal laws)
    -the continued lack of any help provincially or federally for the disabled and poor despite years of promises and aid for workers/businesses
    -undemocratic elections where a minority of voters frequently elect a majority government
    -commonplace lying from politicians at every level of government from every party
    -increasingly unaffordable housing – and food and everything else – that the government seems to think it can fix by raising interest rates alone

    … not only do I have a distaste for the flag, but I have a distaste for the country. I am just as angry, perhaps more so, than the anti-public health crowd. I don’t celebrate Canada Day and I would leave this town, and this country, in a heartbeat if I could. I could write a book about the changes that need to be made but never will be made because so many Canadians are just too ignorant and selfish.

    This may appear “insulting” or “entitled” as well. Too bad.

    • Sandra says:

      So, what is stopping you from leaving?

    • Maria says:

      Perhaps William, you should travel to other parts of the world in order to appreciate what we have here in Canada.

      • William says:

        Okay, send me the money and I’ll go. Or perhaps you should respond to my concerns instead of getting personal. I don’t tell you nosey women (Sandra and Maria) what to do. This country is a disgrace and I don’t have to be grateful that the government would rather kill me than provide me a living wage on ODSP.

      • William says:

        What, that’s it? You wanted to slyly tell me to leave the country while ignoring the rest of my post and move on? Why even bother commenting? How about you get angry about the problems and not someone telling you there are problems?

  4. Rev. Leslie-Elizabeth King says:

    I have felt the same way. I do not want to be associated with the so called freedom convoy and the politics it represents. Whenever I see the local people who still have their trucks decorated and very conservative political signs still on their lawns (this is legal on private property and is part of our freedom) I wince and feel threatened. If they had demonstrated in Ottawa while respecting the rights and freedoms of the people who live and work there I would be less angry. To combine our flag with the one from the US in one banner is disgusting. To threaten people with their anger and vile personal attacks while brandishing our flag is disgusting. When we demonstrate for what we believe in and carry our flag we need to act with the respect the flag demands. Nothing positive is gained, in the long run, when our behaviour disrespects not only the flag but all the people who live under it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree!! Every time my 5 year old daughter sees a Canadian flag on a vehicle she immediately says “look a convoy”. It makes me so sad to see that’s how she views our national flag. I feel that people have been hesitant to fly our flag because of that association. I am hopeful this will all blow over soon!

  6. Bonnie Hodge says:

    Thank you, Trevor. Well put, as always.

  7. Joan Abernethy says:

    It is wrong to associate the misuse of our flag with Conservatives who typically venerate law and order. The freedom convoy is made up of people from all political parties, including NDP, Green, Libertarian, and Liberal as well as many who belong to no party and others who maybe don’t typically vote at all.

    I think SCC Chief Justice Richard Wagner is right that disinformation has driven much of the freedom convoy grievances. Canadians who have suffered injustice in their lives or who belong to groups that have traditionally been persecuted by governments tend to be more vulnerable to disinformation than those who have not.

    The recent Abacus surveys showed that millions of Canadians – in some categories, close to 50% – believe in conspiracies about vaccines and nefarious elitist conspiracies to harm ordinary folks. No wonder they are angry.

    Pierre Poilievre may know that listening to those who feel – even if wrongly – that they have been wronged or marginalized or have suffered a great injustice creates in them an unconscious desire to trust. He may also have paid heed to the Abacus numbers and know the freedom convoy movement is vote rich.

    • Roderick Benns says:

      The Abacus data you cite actually says the following: “Belief in these theories is higher among supporters of the People’s Party, those who self-identify on the right of the spectrum, those who have not received any COVID-19 shots, and those who think media and official government accounts of events can’t be trusted. Those who feel Pierre Poilievre is the Conservative leadership candidate closest to their values and ideas are more likely to believe these theories when compared to those who feel more aligned with Jean Charest.”

  8. Wayne says:

    Vapid….woke….costume wearing….blackface….corrupt…. who do you think I’m referring to ? We have bigger issues to deal with than flag waving Canadians.

  9. Guy Poliquin says:

    I am also angry and mad with the current association of our flag with the convoy (calling it “freedom convoy” is also a misuse of the word “freedom”). However, I am a proud canadian and will continue to use and display my flag as I want – I will not let a fringe minority dictate what I can and cannot do.

    I am hopeful that time will correct the current misperception of what our flag stands for … Can’t wait for Remembrance Day …

  10. Lew MacMaster says:

    I am quite proud to be part of the Fringe Minority.

    A free country does not mandate experimental medicine on it’s people and especially not their children.

    • Brian Smith says:

      It’s interesting how some people define freedom. In a democratic society, freedom becomes less tangible because the “Fringe Minority” also has rights. The right to protest, the right to have their freedoms. What they don’t have is the right to disrupt my freedom and rights, because they are adamant that they are right. The enigma then ensues.

      I am guessing that Lew is not vaccinated and will not get vaccinated. That’s fine, but I am grateful that the country put restrictions on him because he chose not to do so. That was his choice, and he was free to make it. With loved ones (and myself) that have health issues, making them at risk if they were to get Covid, he should be grateful that he was not the one to cause the death of one of them, because he was isolated – perhaps the freedom he is speaking of?

      I have had Covid once for sure probably twice. If I had not been vaccinated I am sure my situation would likely have been much different.

      As for the science. The number of people saved by the vaccine far outweighs the number of health issues and deaths caused by it. It is not a new science and clinical trials have been done on both humans and animals. In the US as of June 2021, there were 3 known cases that were directly proven to be the result of the vaccine.

      As we destroy the natural balance and health of the Earth’s ecosystems (the true conduit to health), such pandemics will increase in frequency. This protien-based science has the potential to save millions upon millions.

      Don’t let fear overcome science.

  11. Dolores Rodnick says:

    I can’t help but comment on the freedom of Canadians. Having lived a considerable number of years, I can remember growing up wondering why Canada couldn’t be more like the U.S.A. The Americans loved their flag and country, celebrated their war heroes and were very patriotic. Our flag, at the time, was the Union Jack and I was to young to understand the difference in our two countries. Canada, for me, is my country of choice. Despite all its warts, I love this country. Sure we have some really challenging problems but I think that collectively we have a better chance at solving them. When I look around the world, I am heartbroken to find so many people starving, Sri Lanka has declared bankruptcy, Britain’s government is having problems again, and the sea of violence in the U.S.A. Continues. During the fall elections, We must think long and hard at who we want running this country. Canada has to stay ahead of the game, finding the way to do that will be a monumental task but I think it is one we are up for. 😇😇😇

  12. Brian says:

    Very well said Delores 👏

  13. William says:

    It seems that people who are doing fine can’t understand why anyone would insult this country and don’t care why others would. Saying “at least we’re not X” isn’t a good argument. Guess what, people? Just because your life is good, doesn’t mean millions of Canadians aren’t suffering. The fact that no one cares makes me hate this country more.

    • Brian says:

      I don’t know William’s personal situation but suffice it to say, I know that our Social Welfare system is lacking. I have some empathy for people in his self proclaimed situation.

      That being said, perhaps instead of espousing his apparent hate for Canada, he should be advocating for the change he wants to see. The type of advocacy that engages people, not the type that pushes people away as in the “Fringe Minority”.

      I can only think of a few other countries that I would be willing to move to, and they all have warts just like Canada. His situation is the perfect reason for Canada to adopt a Basic Income for all who need it. A guaranteed livable wage payed for by the 1%.

      It seems we may just be in the new “Guilded Age” where class dictates your freedoms. No means – no rights.

      In William’s defence, that is wrong, and I can understand why he feels the way he does.

      • William says:

        While I appreciate the understanding, I have been advocating for change for years to no avail. Politicians at all levels don’t care and have no intentions of making the changes necessary. If they was any understanding from those in power I wouldn’t be so angry. Again, thanks for the comment.

      • William says:

        I wrote an article recently for this publication about MAID/ODSP, also. Perhaps you missed it. Still, I wasn’t under any illusion that it would make any difference because most people simply don’t care.

        I just have no faith that anything I say to anyone is going to change anything. Ontarians just voted in another Ford government and the federal Liberals continue to pretend they’re going to implement a monthly payment for disabled Canadians but never do it.

        The type of “fringe minority” I belong to is largely silent, has no ability to stage large protests, has no major party leaders espousing our message, has no funders or propagandists, and is more focused on living through another day. We rely on public health, we don’t deny it. We are ignored, not discussed every day on every news outlet. I agree with the rest of your message, but I don’t believe anything I say will drive people to the fringe discussed in this article.

        • Brian says:

          I totally understand your frustration, and while it may ring a little hollow considering, I also wish you only good things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*