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Monday, the Union Jack is to fly nationwide next to our Maple Leaf, from every federal building possible. Depending on where you live, but especially in Ottawa, you could be forgiven for thinking Tony Blair is in town. Actually, it's Commonwealth Day, the arbitrary second Monday in March chosen to celebrate the organization.

In 1964, Parliament made the Union Jack Canada's official sign of membership in the Commonwealth. It was consolation for those who tried to keep the Red Ensign in an era when "British Empire" was becoming a historical term.

But within a decade, a new symbol evolved. At the 1973 Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Ottawa, pennants were created, forming the basis of a new flag. It was designed on the initiative of Prime Minister Trudeau, and the first secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Canadian Arnold Smith.

Thanks to Canada's effort, the Commonwealth has, for over 30 years, had a flag symbolic of all its 53 members. How ironic that in Canada, federal properties are told to mark this day by flying the banner of only one of them. That's unfair. We should take pride in our gift to the world, and fly the Commonwealth flag on Commonwealth Day.

By Wayne Adam


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