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Commonwealth tradition with a Quebec spin

by Robin Della Corte November 13, 2012
Commonwealth tradition with a Quebec spin

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

Premier Pauline Marois made headlines when she gave her inaugural speech at the National Assembly two weeks ago, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

Many veterans and citizens across Canada were offended when they realized the poppy she was wearing in honour of Remembrance Day had a fleur-de-lis, a symbol of Quebec’s cultural and political identity, over it.

After the incident, Marois’ director of communications, Shirley Bishop, told the Globe and Mail that Marois’ “objective was not to create a controversy.”

If her objective was not to create controversy, then what was it? To promote Quebec’s national identity on a holiday that celebrates Canada’s triumphs in past wars? To solely support Quebec’s veterans in the war?

Marois proved to be incredibly close-minded in the past few months, and that’s made her look ignorant and disrespectful.

Bishop continues to tell the Globe and Mail that “Marois has a lot of respect for veterans and a lot of respect for all the people who’ve lost their lives for their homeland. The fact of putting a fleur-de-lis was not at all, not at all, a political act … She’ll continue to wear the poppy but, given the controversy, she will not put the fleur-de-lis.”

I believe Marois knew very well that putting adding the fleur-de-lis pin was a political act. I feel this shows Quebec, and the rest of Canada, that she supports the Quebec soldiers in the war and perhaps doesn’t take any consideration for all the other Canadians soldiers who lost their lives as well.

Margot Arsenault, the Royal Canadian Legion’s provincial president, also believes that it was a political act and told the Globe and Mail that “[the veterans] fought for Canada, not just Quebec.”

Arsenault stated that she received 15 calls and about a dozen emails that day from veterans (even Quebec veterans) who claimed the act was unacceptable. The Legion states on their website that the poppy is not to be modified or altered in any way.

Remembrance Day is the day Canada remembers all the veterans who fought for freedom. To put any political symbol within the poppy automatically portrays you as supporting a single portion rather than the whole. In Marois’ case, having the Quebec symbol placed over this Canadian symbol clearly shows that Marois prefers one over the other.

For Marois’ director of communications to actually state that she didn’t want to create controversy is very ironic because Marois has been stirring up controversy ever since she was elected.

I’m extremely fed up with Marois’ acts. It’s embarrassing to be a part of a province with a premier who doesn’t recognize that we live in Canada. Furthermore, on a holiday that means so much to most Canadians, trying to display her political views through a symbol that symbolizes unity of Canada is extremely frustrating.

Marois would have been hard-pressed to keep wearing the fleur-de-lis, and I give her credit for taking it off just in time. Maybe this once, she can respect a Canadian tradition without making it strictly Quebec related.

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