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Canadians differ on flag, closure

For nearly a century Canada had no distinctive national flag. Each time Canadians suggested a new symbol to replace the Canadian Red Ensign, modelled after a British naval flag, there was controversy. Maple leaves, beavers, crosses, crowns — propositions that went nowhere. In 1964 Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson said he'd introduce a new national flag. But Opposition leader John Diefenbaker and the Royal Canadian Legion wanted to stick with the Red Ensign. Everyone had an opinion before Canada finally chose the red and white flag with the maple leaf.

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Early on Dec. 15, 1964, the House of Commons voted for closure on the flag debate. CBC reporters say reaction to the flag and the political manoeuvering is mixed. French Canadians are, for the most part, indifferent. A woman in Vancouver says closure was inevitable because the members of Parliament "were getting like ladies at a tea party, trying to decide whether they wanted pink or green napkins."
. A flag committee of seven Liberals, five Progressive Conservatives, one New Democrat, one Social Crediter and one Créditiste voted on Canadian flag designs. They unanimously selected the flag suggested by Liberal party member of Parliament John Matheson.
. Designer George Stanley had suggested to Matheson that the flag resemble the Royal Military College's, which has a white square in the middle and two red bars on the sides, much like the current Canadian flag.

. Matheson helped develop the design and even doodled ideas for it in the House of Commons.
. Matheson also invented the Order of Canada design.
. On Jan. 28, 1965 the Queen gave the Maple Leaf royal assent.
. In 1964 when Pearson realized he had no flag to take to his new cottage the next morning, the government exhibition commission's Ken Donovan had his daughter hurriedly stitch together some prototypes.
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 15, 1964
Host: John O'Leary
Reporter: Norm Allen, Ron Chester, Brian Kelleher, John Sheltus
Duration: 3:16

Last updated: January 10, 2012

Page consulted on December 17, 2014

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