MPs pass motion on lowering flag for military dead
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, April 2, 2008 10:01PM EDT
A Liberal motion calling for Ottawa's Peace Tower flag to be lowered whenever Canadian soldiers are killed abroad was passed in the House of Commons Wednesday.
The motion passed 142-115, supported by the Liberals and the NDP.
However, the Conservative government is suggesting it will ignore the non-binding motion and ask a committee to come up with a wide-ranging policy on when the flag should be at half-mast.
Rather than lowering the national flag every time a Canadian soldier is killed, the Tories wants to put more emphasis on Remembrance Day, lowering the flag once a year in honour of all Canadian soldiers killed.
MPs voted Wednesday on the Liberal motion that would require a moment of silence and lowering the Canadian flag on the Peace Tower for all dead soldiers, even as a report recommends cutting back on the honour.
Jason Kenney, secretary of state for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday that the current policy, which sees the flag lowered for every soldier's death, hurts the flag's status as a symbol of national pride.
Royal Canadian Legion and other veteran's associations, as well as many in the military, support the position, Kenney said.
"If we had lowered the flag during the First and Second World War it would have never been at full mast, and so they say to us a country that's in perpetual mourning can't necessarily be a proud symbol," he added.
The panel -- led by Robert Watt, Canada's former chief herald -- would restrict lowering the flag to mark the deaths of current and former representatives of the Crown, the prime minister and the Supreme Court's chief justice.
Kenney said the report recommends finding other significant ways of honouring Canada's fallen soldiers. That could include lowering other flags at Parliament Hill, but not the main flag mounted on the Peace Tower.
He also said it would be difficult to have to pick and choose when different groups request lowering the flag.
"I think we need to take into account all the different days of mourning and anniversary days and find other appropriate national ways of acknowledging those, but to ensure the national flag maintains that sense of permanent pride up there on the Peace Tower."
Kenney said the government will look at the panel's report, and hopes to establish a parliamentary committee to review the recommendations and come up with "some thoughtful non-partisan review."
If the government adopts the panel's recommendations, it would no longer lower the flag for the deaths of current or former senators or MPs.
The report also recommends against lowering the flag on Dec. 6, the day that commemorates violence against women, and during the last weekend of September -- a time that honours peace officers who die in the line of duty.
Under the recommendations, the flag would no longer be lowered to honour workers who die on the job, which currently happens on April 28.