As Canadian as possible under the circumstances.
I've yet to thank Stephen Harper for re-incorporating the word "royal" in the names of our armed forces branches, and it'll be awhile before I express gratitude for his latest misguided stab at patriotism - a proposal, originating with a backbencher but enjoying the PM's support - "to display the Canadian flag...without any intimidation by condo boards or other neighbours," in the words of Heritage Minister James Moore.
I collect flags, as it happens, and would be mighty disappointed if told to take down my Maple Leaf. But here's the one example cited in today's Star of citizens ordered by condo management to remove their flag. The aggrieved couple's Maple Leaf, according to their condo management, had been "tossed in the tree like a rag" and was dragging on the ground.
Uh huh. Well, there are rules for displaying the flag. The flag never touches the ground is one. Crumpling it up into a rag and tossing it in a tree is not, since the rules, rather than being codified in an 830-page book, are few and based on common sense. The rule here likely would be that the put-upon couple wasn't treating the flag with respect.
We don't need a law about this. We need such nonsense only if our aim is to distract the people with cost-free initiatives that have zilch to do with pressing matters at hand, like putting 1.4 million jobless Canadians back to work. Anmd investing more heavily in our future with additional spending on education, healthcare, R&D, vastly improved aboriginal living conditions, affordable housing, replacing obsolete infrastructure, and so on.
Instead, as a republican, I have to suffer the unwinding of Pierre Trudeau's initiative, in the 1970s, of "de-royalizing" our supposedly sovereign nation, replacing the Royal Mail with Canada Post and the Dominion Bureau of Statistics with Statistics Canada - titles that appropriately assert our growing distance from Buckingham Palace as the cockpit of Canadian governance but are more easily rendered bilingual.
So, welcome back, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.
What does the "Royal" mean, by the way? Oh, that our sovereign is a foreigner, descended from German aristocracy, who has the last word in Canada - when not physically present in this neck of the woods - through her representative, the Governor-General.
Sheesh. Tens of thousands of emigres come to Canada each year to escape monarchialism and other forms of totalitarian rule, and then wonder who is this foreign woman on our currency?
In this regard, at least, it appears we remain trapped in adolescence, there being no groundswell in favor of severing the last official ties between ourselves and a "Mother Country" that was well pleased to be relieved of the burden of its North American settlements. And which thereafter consistently sided with the U.S. in border disputes, since Britain perhaps wisely decided a century ago that America would be more important to its future than, uh, Canada.
That Harper is still playing into this forced patriotism shows his continued enthrallment to the Rovian strategy of "narrowcasting," of appealing exclusively to a largely untutored, largely rural, largely afraid of its own shadow and certainly of the future base that wants the long-form census killed for reasons of privacy invasion (killing the entire census in the process) and favors spending billions on new prisons made necessary by Harper's proposed increase in mandatory sentencing and longer sentences - despite a steadily declining crime rate, and all evidence showing that such measures do not reduce crime. They do go over well with the Tory-voting law-and-order crowdette, however.
There was a time when Tories sought to expand their base, back when they were Progressive Conservatives who invented "big tent" politics long before Reagan latched onto the concept.
Is Harper trying to turn back the clock, or is he the reincarnation of a chapter president of the Women's Christian Temperance Foundation? I am certain that, like Nixon, he was born in a blue suit.