EDITORIAL – Pride in Canada

by Jeff Burgar
There might be people who don’t feel a burst of pride whenever the Canadian flag is raised at an international sporting event, signifying a Canadian trophy. Pfft on them!

And no doubt, there were a few dry eyes when the thousands of people returning to their homes in Fort McMurray last week drove under the Canadian flag. The flag was raised on high by two fire ladder trucks on one of the overpasses into the fire-ravaged city.

Dry eyes, sure. But few and very far between. It must have been heart-wrenching, and hugely emotional, to see this symbol of our fair nation waving proudly.

Our nation welcomed people home, and indicated the entire country is behind Fort McMurray’s citizens as they rebuild.

OK, pause for a moment and collect yourselves.

So, it is a coincidence, but a nice one, that High Prairie’s Mayor Linda Cox commented on a recent personal trip she made to the American state of Maine.

“The streets of the town we stayed at were all decorated with American flags. It was actually quite a sight,” she says.

Cox adds it is an annual thing for that town. The flags go up in spring, and are taken down in fall. Every year. Nice, eh?

Also coincidentally, next year, 2017, is Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation: 150 years after 1867, when Canada became an independent nation.

There was a day when big spending projects were a highlight of anniversaries. Museums, libraries, swimming pools, monuments of all kinds, even roads and bridges, were all funded generously by provincial and federal governments.
High Prairie’s own museum is a centennial project, built in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s 100th anniversary. Those were the good old days. Money flowed like water, politicians spent it like water, and the taxpayers were happy to pay for it all.

It’s not quite the same coming up. It’s harder to get federal money. Big building projects will be few and far between. We will see how it all goes.

One Ontario town was up for a big celebration. But after realizing there would be little federal money coming their way, and checking its own bank account, killed all their plans. The local politicians decided frugal ways would be better suited to celebrate 2017, not big spending.

Meanwhile, flags are not a terribly original idea, even in High Prairie. Forty years ago, a High Prairie businessman named Carl Boytinck promoted the idea of Canadian flags every chance he got. He thought every business and office should have a flag flying from the front of the building. The idea didn’t really catch on, even when he offered to supply flags of all sizes, at cost. He gave away many. A few buildings here and there did end up flying flags, including his own store.

Canadian flags up and down High Prairie’s main highway, and throughout the business section, is worthwhile. Flags are quite inexpensive, compared to a museum or a bridge.

Politicians love building monuments, but this is something special and repeatable, and just should be done anyway.

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