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The Red Ensign and Historical Canadian Flags thread

gordjenkins

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Why all this hand wringing about Red Ensigns and Vimy.

First of all no Canadian flags were carried during the Vimy battle
or on the battlefield. Even Regimental Colours were not carried - - the only
exception being the PPCLI  but I suspect the colours were left back at RHQ!

Secondly in 70 pages of photographs and narrative in the 1936 Canadian Geographic
Journal special edition on 1936 "Vimy Pilgrimage"
of which I have a copy
-not a Red Ensign to be seen!

The Union Jack was on the Podium at Vimy /at the parade in London
and other smaller ceremonies in France at the dedication  in 1936

So why the fuss of having Red Ensign at current memorial service on April 9th this year?
 

newfin

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The Canadian flag, The Maple Leaf, is the one that should be flown.  Apparently the Red Ensign will be displayed as part of a background piece for people to see what it looked like.  I can't understand why there are people who think that the flag from 90 years ago is relevant today.  The Canadian people are currently paying for the renovation and the Maple Leaf is the current flag.  So, that is the one that should be flown.  We don't need to honour a flag from the past when we finally have our own to pay respect to.  We seem to have these "flag flaps" in this country every few years.  It's long past time to move on.
 

nowhere_man

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I do like the red Ensign but I have to aggree that it's time to move on, When someone has time to worry about somthing like this then it shows we're living in a pretty darn good country.
 

geo

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The Red Ensign was used as early as 1868 on an informal basis. From 1892, it became the official flag for use on Canadian merchant ships, though the official national flag on land was the Union Flag. Despite its lack of official status, the Red Ensign began to be widely used on land as well, and flew over the Parliament buildings until 1904 when it was replaced by the Union Flag. The original Canadian Red Ensign had the arms of the four original provinces on its shield. In 1921, the Government of Canada asked king George V to order a new coat of arms for Canada. The Royal College of Heralds thus designed a suitable coat of arms for Canada. The designed shield was displayed on the Red Ensign, thus producing the Canadian Red Ensign. In 1922, the shield of the Coat of Arms of Canada replaced the provincial arms. In 1924, the Red Ensign was approved for use on Canadian government buildings outside Canada. The Canadian Red Ensign, through history, tradition and custom was finally formalized on September 5th 1945, when the Canadian Governor-General signed an Order-in-Council (P.C. 5888) which stated that "The Red Ensign with the Shield of the Coat of arms in the fly (to be referred to as "The Canadian Red Ensign") may be flown from buildings owned or occupied by the Canadian federal Government within or without Canada shall be appropriate to fly as a distinctive Canadian flag. So in 1945, the flag was officially approved for use by government buildings inside Canada as well, and once again flew over Parliament.

The Red Ensign served until 1965 when it was replaced by today's Maple Leaf Flag. The flag bore various forms of the shield from the Canadian coat of arms in its fly during the period of its use.
A blue ensign, also bearing the shield of the Canadian coat of arms, was the jack flown by the Royal Canadian Navy and the ensign of ships owned by the Canadian government until 1965. From 1865 until Canadian Confederation in 1867, the United Province of Canada could also have used a blue ensign, but there is little evidence such a flag was ever used.

 

MarkOttawa

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During World War II official use of the Red Ensign was authorized by the RCAF in 1943 (Group 6?) and by the Canadian Army in 1944.
http://www.fotw.net/flags/ca-1921.html

This history I think may be definitive (forgive the length).  It would seem to me that the Legion is being a-historical in thinking the Ensign was in common use at the front in WW I. 

THE ARMS WITH GREEN LEAVES
http://fraser.cc/FlagsCan/Nation/Ensigns.html

"It is often said that Canadian nationalism came home in the baggage of the soldiers from the World War I. The soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force had fought World War I under the Union Flag, which, as members of the British Empire, was their flag as much as anyone else's. However, they desired to be recognized as Canadians, and this was provided, at least in part, by their maple-leaf-covered badges.

The increased Canadian consciousness that came home with the soldiers in 1919 caused the pendulum to swing from the Union Flag back towards the Canadian Red Ensign. The shift was not strong enough that it would have been possible to persuade the country to adopt the ensign as the national flag, as was evidenced by the fuss in the country and parliament when a government committee was appointed in 1925 to report on the adoption of a national flag. The support for the Union Flag forced Prime Minister Mackenzie King to disband the committee. Nevertheless, the Canadian Red Ensign was coming back into its own.

The Canadian Red Ensign that emerged shortly after the war, was not the cluttered and aberrant ensigns of the past. The new badge was the shield of the recently granted arms of Canada. The previous situation where each province had arms, but the Dominion had not, was inappropriate, especially in the light of the increased feelings of Canadian nationalism. On March 26, 1919, Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden appointed a committee to advise on a granting of arms from King George V.54 The arms they proposed were, with a most curious and significant change, the arms that George V granted on November 21, 1921.

Based on the committee report, on April 30, 1921 a Canadian government order-in-council requested a shield which had as its base, "argent three maple leaves slipped vert" or three green maple leaves upon a silver field. It was the colour of the maple leaves on the shield that was at issue, for the maple leaf held by the lion in the crest was red, and the mantling was red and white.55 The mantling established Canada's national colours as red and white. The red maple leaf in the crest, consistent with the national colours, was in striking contrast to the colour of the leaves on the shield. When the proclamation of arms arrived, it read "Argent three maple leaves conjoined on one stem proper." The "proper" indicated that the colour of the leaves on the shield was to be that of natural maple leaves, which included not only the requested green, but also yellow, or red. This subtlety was not to bother anyone for many years; for now, green leaves it was.

One other detail of interest for the ensign badge was third quarter of the shield: the Irish harp. This had been merely specified as "Azure A harp or stringed argent" which meant a golden harp with silver strings on a blue field. At the time the arms were granted, this was interpreted as being the same representation of a harp as appears upon the royal arms (and royal standard): a harp bearing the naked torso of a winged maiden. This, like the colour of the maple leaves, was to change in a later version of the arms, and so also on the badge of the ensigns.

On April 26, 1922, by order-in-council, the government authorized the shield of the recently granted arms to be used as the badge on both the Canadian Red and Blue Ensigns.56 This created the second official form of these ensigns, and now this satisfactory badge displaced all of the previous aberrant ones.

By now the Canadian Blue Ensign and its twin the Canadian Blue Jack had four different functions. As an ensign, it was worn at the stern of all governmental vessels other than warships, and it replaced the Canadian Red Ensign at the stern of merchantmen if the Captain and some of the crew were officers in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve. As a jack it appeared at the bow of all governmental ships, whether warships or not. However, on warships the jack had the same shape as the ensigns: twice as long as it was wide. It also appeared at the bow of other government vessels, but there, the Canadian Blue Jack was nearly square. Thus, essentially the same flag, distinguishable only by its shape, flew at both the bow and the stern of non-belligerent governmental vessels. For example, RCMP cruisers in the 1930s flew a Canadian Blue Ensign at the stern and a (square) Canadian Blue Jack at the bow.57

On January 26, 1924, two years after the new badge was authorized, the official use of the Canadian Red Ensign was extended by another order-in-council. Now the flag was authorized for use on all Canadian buildings outside Canada. Although it now represented the Dominion in London, Geneva, and, shortly afterwards, in Washington, Paris and Tokyo, the Union Flag still flew over the Parliament Buildings at home.58 Although sentiments of Canadian nationalism were rising in the west, and they had always been high in Québec, Ontario remained fervently imperialistic. As an editorial in the Toronto Mail and Empire of June 5, 1925, put it:

    '... all the rules the ordinary flag owner need pay attention to are few and simple. For him is just one flag that can properly be flown; that is the Union Jack.' 59

In a somewhat more descriptive than prescriptive mood, a 1926 "manual of Canadian citizenship" produced by the National Council of Education billed the Canadian Red Ensign as the "National Emblem of Canada." School children of the day were assured that in addition to the use of the Canadian ensign on ships and on Canadian buildings abroad, it

    'is used at home by many of our citizens within the boundaries of the Dominion itself, as a symbol of our national freedom and independence within the Empire.' 60

Up until 1934, the use of the Canadian Red Ensign by merchant ships was based on the acquiescence in 1892 of the British Admiralty to the Canadian request. With formal independence gained in 1931 through the Statute of Westminster, the Canadian government moved to establish its own shipping regulations, and, concomitantly, authority over its merchant flag. The 1934 Canada Shipping Act read:

    'The red ensign usually worn by merchant ships with the shield of the coat of arms of Canada in the fly is hereby declared to be the proper national colours for all ships registered in Canada and all ships and boats which would be registered in Canada if they were required to be registered at all.' 61

While questions of flag usage can lie unsettled for many years during peacetime, a war forces them to be addressed. In World War I, the Union Flag failed to distinguish Canadian soldiers as anything but a part of the great British effort. The Canadian independence and self-assurance that followed that first great conflict would not permit a similar merging of identities a second time. To distinguish the Canadian combatants, the War Committee of the Cabinet had the Battle Flag created (approved December 7, 1939). Designed by Colonel A. Fortescue Duguid, Director of the Historical Section of the General Staff of the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, it had a white field, the Union Flag in the canton, three red maple leaves on one stem in the centre, and three golden fleurs-de-lis on a blue roundel in the upper fly.

In the early years of World War II, patriotic illustrations representing the services would show three flags: this battle flag of the army, the light blue ensign of the RCAF (approved in July 5, 1940), and the white ensign of the RCN. Although the Union Flag appeared in the canton of each flag, it rarely appeared on its own in such illustrations, as had been the pattern in the first war in spite of the fact that the King's Rules and Regulations (Canada) 1939, familiarly known as "K R Can" stated categorically that the flag of Canada "was the Union Jack."62 When the country as a whole was to be illustrated, the Canadian Red Ensign was invariably used.

The battle flag went overseas with troops, but it was a montage that sought to please many, and consequently pleased few. An editorial in The Maple Leaf, an armed forces newspaper published in London, noted that there was "Overwhelming opposition to the Canadian flag proposed by Col. Duguid ... [as] is shown in letters which have deluged The Maple Leaf office." (December 10, 1945) The flag fell into disuse. Meanwhile, the Canadian Red Ensign was gaining ground.

In 1943 August, during one of the periodic meetings at which the western allies' strategy was decided, Prime Minister Mackenzie King was host in Québec to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This occasion demanded the hoisting of the flags of the three participant countries; the use of the Canadian Red Ensign for Canada was likely the first time in forty years that it had been used officially by the government to represent the country upon Canadian territory. The arrangements, presumably made by Britain, were at first not satisfactory. King was annoyed when he saw "the Canadian flag beneath the Union Jack, the day that Churchill arrived."63 After speaking to Churchill about the slight, he ordered all the flags to be flown at the same height with the Canadian Red Ensign in the central position of honour.

The ensign's stock continued to rise as its use was extended to both the air force and the army. On November 10, 1943, a routine order stated:

    'The Canadian Red Ensign with a shield of the Coat-of-Arms of Canada in the fly is to be flown in addition to the R.C.A.F. Ensign, at all units of the R.C.A.F. serving with the forces of other nations.'

Shortly thereafter, on January 22, 1944, a comparable routine order extended the use of the Canadian Red Ensign to the army. That Mackenzie King was a convert was clear from his recommendation to the cabinet on April 28, 1944:

    'that Canada take the Canadian Ensign and accept it at once as her national flag; not wait to design a special flag. Later a Committee could be appointed to consider new designs.'

However, nothing more was done officially until the war was over a year and a half later. 64

Thus, for the latter third of the war, not only the Canadian forces knew that they were fighting under the Canadian Red Ensign, but publications such as the Star Weekly, a weekend newspaper supplement, made the public well aware of it.

As the previous conflict had done, World War II enhanced national pride and confidence; many of those soldiers who went overseas thinking of themselves as British subjects came back as Canadians. So it was that the House of Commons was informed on October 1, 1945, that:

    'The Red Ensign is being flown from the Tower of the Houses of Parliament under authority of Order-in-Council, P.C. 5888, passed September 5, 1945. ... The Order-in-Council contained these provisions:

    That until such time as action is taken by parliament for the formal adoption of a national flag, it is desirable to authorize the flying of the Canadian Red Ensign on federal government buildings within as well as without Canada, and to remove any doubt as to the propriety of flying the Canadian Red Ensign wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag.

    Nothing herein shall be deemed to alter in any way the provisions now in force with respect to the flying of the Blue Ensign with the Shield of the coat of Arms of Canada in the fly on Canadian naval vessels and other government vessels, nor with respect to the flying of the Canadian Red Ensign on Canadian Merchant vessels.'

Finally, after having flown the Canadian Red Ensign informally for about three-quarters of a century, Canadians had received official sanction for their actions. The order-in-council stopped short of declaring it the national flag of Canada, instead gave it a provisional status "until such time as action is taken by parliament for the formal adoption of a national flag". This was a point that was often ignored over the next twenty years by ardent supporters of the flag. 65

Use of the Ensign at Vimy would be utterly wrong, it would seem.

Mark
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MarkOttawa

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I was wrong.  See the comment by Chris Taylor at The Torch:
https://www2.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=22793240&postID=1820755071397554096

Mark
Ottawa

 

T.R.Hayward

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newfin said:
The Canadian flag, The Maple Leaf, is the one that should be flown.  Apparently the Red Ensign will be displayed as part of a background piece for people to see what it looked like.  I can't understand why there are people who think that the flag from 90 years ago is relevant today.  The Canadian people are currently paying for the renovation and the Maple Leaf is the current flag.  So, that is the one that should be flown.  We don't need to honour a flag from the past when we finally have our own to pay respect to.  We seem to have these "flag flaps" in this country every few years.  It's long past time to move on.

Hello Newfin,

Some of my ancestors fought in WWI. There are very few veterans left from that era, and I believe that they should be honoured and respected for as long as there are Canadians.

To them, this was their flag. The symbol of their home.

In my opinion it has just as much relevance as today's flag to those who lost relatives in WWI. It is a proud reminder of our collective past and soon it will be even more poignant as the final veterans of WWI go to rest.

Thank you for your time and attention....

Best Wishes,

-Rick
 

3rd Herd

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gordjenkins said:
Why all this hand wringing about Red Ensigns and Vimy.

the only exception being the PPCLI  but I suspect the colours were left back at RHQ![/i]

Gord,
if you examine any good photo's of the Ric a Dam Doo take a look at the holes in the top left  corner of it. Further the original staff was replaced several times as it was cut appart by bullets and shrapnel bursts.
 

gordjenkins

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Mr Herd :>)
We are getting a bit off topic
- the point I was making was no Unit  carried Red Ensigns to the front in fighting that I am aware of
- the Australians had a their own Red Ensign in WW1 as well- 
  knowing them
-& to start an even broader discussion -
the Ozzie's probably did carry there's ? Digger - right /wrong?
secondly i was only pointing out that the only Canadian Unit that carried any flag at the front  in WW1 was the PPCLI - "Ric-A-Dam-Doo" ("Cloth of Thy Mother" in Gaelic)
third the PPCLI flag was a "Camp Colour" and was consecrated as a Regimental Colour in 1919

Gord

 

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Well, for reasons having nothing to do with historical accuracy, protocol, or even rationality, I vote for the Ensign with the four-province shield.

The bottom left icon is obviously a parachute wing   ;D


ca_vimy2.jpg
 

armyvern

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Journeyman said:
Well, for reasons having nothing to do with historical accuracy, protocol, or even rationality, I vote for the Ensign with the four-province shield.

The bottom left icon is obviously a parachute wing   ;D

Only you JM could turn a thistle into a set of jump wings.  :D
 

geo

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gordjenkins said:
Mr Herd :>)
We are getting a bit off topic
- the point I was making was no Unit  carried Red Ensigns to the front in fighting that I am aware of

- the Australians had a their own Red Ensign in WW1 as well- 
  knowing them
-& to start an even broader discussion -
the Ozzie's probably did carry there's ? Digger - right /wrong?

secondly i was only pointing out that the only Canadian Unit that carried any flag at the front  in WW1 was the PPCLI - "Ric-A-Dam-Doo" ("Cloth of Thy Mother" in Gaelic)

third the PPCLI flag was a "Camp Colour" and was consecrated as a Regimental Colour in 1919

Gord
The newly formed regiments of the CEF were all given a silk ensign.  Though most were never carried in battle, they most certainly did make it to Europe.  The one presented to the 14th Bn CEF's is encased in the WOs & Sgts mess of the Reg't that perpetuates it... the RMR.
 

Bigmac

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Most believe new and old Canadian flags should fly at Vimy Ridge ceremony: poll
MICHAEL OLIVEIRA



TORONTO (CP) - A majority of Canadians want the wishes of veterans respected and two different Canadian flags to fly at next month's ceremony recognizing the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a new poll suggests.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Dominion Institute, found 79 per cent of respondents support the idea of flying both the current flag and the old Canadian "Red Ensign" atop the monument during the April 9 ceremony in Vimy, France.

At the time of the famous First World War battle at Vimy Ridge, the Canadian flag was red with the British Union Jack in the top left corner, and the coats of arms of Canada's first four provinces on the right side. In 1965, the flag was changed to today's Maple Leaf design.

Government protocol dictates that only a Canadian flag can adorn federal monuments; the Vimy monument is considered to be on Canadian soil, even though it's in France.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, has reportedly expressed a desire to see the Red Ensign fly as part of the special ceremony - and on Friday, a spokeswoman for Veteran Affairs Canada all but confirmed both flags would be raised.

"We at Veterans Affairs are working to obtain a Red Ensign from the Vimy period in order to fly it during the ceremonies alongside the national flags of Canada, France and the United Kingdom," Janice Summerby said.

Rudyard Griffiths of the Dominion Institute said he was thrilled that "common sense prevailed" and that history will live on.

"I don't think veterans are saying here that this is about replacing the Maple Leaf or not showing proper respect for the Maple Leaf," he said.

"Quite the contrary, I think it's more an appeal to historical accuracy and an appeal to the reality that this was the flag of Canadians (of that era) and we shouldn't be airbrushing our history. I think for them it's a matter of being true to the history they helped create for Canada."

The most support for the idea was in the Atlantic provinces, where 89 per cent of respondents wanted both flags used. The idea won the least amount of support in Alberta and Quebec - 76 per cent.

Ipsos Reid polled 1,000 Canadians online during a three-day period starting March 20. The results are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
http://www.recorder.ca/cp/National/070324/n032401A.html

      If the veterans want to see the flag as it was when they risked their lives for our country then we should respect their wishes. They deserve to know that we appreciate their sacrifices. I don't think it diminishes the significance of our current flag but only intensifies how far we have come due to the efforts of these brave soldiers.

    My opinion is fly both flags but salute the current.  :cdnsalute:
 

The Bread Guy

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More details on the survey results.....

News Release - Tables of Detailed Breakdown of Results

8 IN 10 CANADIANS (79%) WANT CURRENT AND HISTORIC CANADIAN FLAGS FLOWN AT VIMY RIDGE 90TH ANNIVERSARY CEREMONY

Toronto, ON – A poll conducted by Ipsos Reid for the Dominion Institute shows that a full
majority of Canadians (79%) support flying both the modern day Canadian Maple Leaf flag
and previous “Red Ensign” Canadian flag at the Vimy Ridge 90th anniversary ceremony that
will be taking place on April 9, 2007.

The most famous battle fought by Canadians in World War One was at a place called Vimy
Ridge in France where a very large monument owned and operated by the Canadian federal
government now exists.

Canadian government protocol allows no other flag than the Maple Leaf to fly on federal
monuments. Various groups have called on the Conservative government to override the
protocol and allow both the current Maple Leaf and historic Red Ensign – the flag Canadian
troops fought under in World War One – fly together at the ceremony.

In 1917 the Canadian Red Ensign flag was a red flag with the British Union Jack in the top left
corner and the coats of arms of the four original provinces. In 1964 Canada’s flag was
changed to today’s Maple Leaf flag.

The Atlantic provinces (89%) are significantly more likely to support flying both flags at
Vimy Ridge than most of the other provinces. Those from BC (81%) also show strong support
for flying both flags, while Alberta (76%) and Quebec (76%) show slightly less.

REGION
                  Total          BC          AB          SK/MB        Ontario        Quebec      Atlantic
Support      79%          81%        76%          79%          78%          76%        89%
Oppose        18%          17%        19%          13%          19%          20%        9%
Don’t know  3%            2%          5%            7%            3%            4%          2%

Question: Do you support or oppose the two flags flying together for this occasion?
Groups who also say they support flying the flags together include:

· Young Canadians 18-34 are more likely to support than older Canadians 55+
(82% versus 77%)
· Females (81%) are more likely to support flying both flags than males (76%)
· Rural Canadians (82%) are more likely than Urban Canadians (78%)

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid survey fielded from March 20th to 22nd, 2007. For the survey, a
representative randomly selected sample of 1,000 adult Canadians were interviewed via an on-line
survey. With a sample of this size, the aggregate results are considered accurate to within ±3.1
percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian
population been polled.
The margin of error will be larger within each sub-grouping of the survey
population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects
that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data.

Age Gender
                  Total          18-34          35-54          55+          Male          Female
Support        79%            82%            79%          77%          76%              81%
Oppose        18%            15%            18%            20%          21%              14%
Don’t know    3%            3%              3%              3%            2%                4%

(....)
 

AJFitzpatrick

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I see that most of the salient points have been covered but I wonder if they will be flying the Union Jack as well since it was the flag that the Newfoundlanders fought under.  Historical accuracy and protocol apparently not being a factor.
 

tomahawk6

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I think those who fought at Vimy Ridge and other places would be more than proud to have the maple leaf fly over them for all eternity. It is their sacrifice that made the maple leaf possible.
 

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tomahawk6 said:
I think those who fought at Vimy Ridge and other places would be more than proud to have the maple leaf fly over them for all eternity. It is their sacrifice that made the maple leaf possible.

I'm  with T-6 on this whether its the Union Jack, the Red Ensign, or the Maple Leaf THEY made it possible for us to have this discussion.

As a side note the Newfoundlanders that fought in WW1 served under the Union Jack as they where part of the Britian at the time.
 

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I'm curious, for those who are arguing so strongly for the Red Ensign to be flown, to represent the Canada for which those who died on the ridge fought, will they be allowing the Newfoundlanders to parade with the Canadians?  Or would they send them to parade under their own flag of the day?

Canada today is honouring the actions on Vimy Ridge, I believe that the flag that represents all of Canada today should have the most prominent position.
 

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Michael O'Leary said:
I'm curious, for those who are arguing so strongly for the Red Ensign to be flown, to represent the Canada for which those who died on the ridge fought, will they be allowing the Newfoundlanders to parade with the Canadians?  Or would they send them to parade under their own flag of the day?

Canada today is honouring the actions on Vimy Ridge, I believe that the flag that represents all of Canada today should have the most prominent position.

As usual Michael most think Canada ends at Nova Scotia. If it where up to me we should all parade under the maple leaf as we are now one country united under said flag. And if I'm not mistaken we are still known as the Dominion of Canada.
 
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