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It appears that Conservative Canadians are the only patriotic Canadians. Or they make up the most patriotic ridings, thanks to mail-outs from Conservative MPs to their constituents.

These mail-outs involve a fair sized Canadian flag (30-40cm) which one can stick in one’s window (and what patriotic Canadians wouldn’t stick our flag on their door or window?) Also included is a questionnaire which said Conservative MPs can tailor to their liking. Whichever riding puts up the most flags from the mail-outs win “Most Patriotic Riding,” which really is such an honour! While there is no reward money, no plaque, no new play ground, no better government, nor even a cupcake, just the knowledge that you’re potentially the most patriotic riding in Canada! Wow.

 

Clearly, the only way to be patriotic about our country is through flags.Dave Chidley

Clearly, the best and only way to be patriotic about our country is through flags.
Dave Chidley

 

Anyone recall Casablanca, the movie with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman? There’s a line when the Gestapo order the French authorities (forgive me, Vichy French authorities) to close down Rick (Bogart’s) nightclub. Captain Renault obliges, telling Rick “I’m shocked, simply shocked to discover gambling going on here,” all while Renault pockets his winnings.

Renault’s words come to mind when one looks at yet another headline involving partisan mail-outs It’s something that all parties do…oh sorry that was meant to be from Tom Mulcair’s flimsy defence statement. In any case, yes it is something that all parties are guilty of. We shouldn’t be shocked by it. At least the Conservatives aren’t mailing them to other ridings!

That the Conservative’s are supposedly asking questions, which may go into their electoral war chests, well…all I can really say is meh. So what, they’re collecting data from their constituents. It’s not any different from when Ipsos, or iPolitic or some other polling company calls during dinner time, wants to ask you a dozen or so questions and suddenly receives a dial tone as you return to your Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding. If anything the Conservative mail-outs are less intrusive than the calls from the polling companies.

Besides which I have a hard time believing that the information is all that valuable. Oh it can give you an idea of what voters are thinking; but only a vague one. Plus the rate of return of the questionaires doesn’t seem very high. Guy Lauzon, representing Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, has had his riding win the “Most Patriotic Contest” six times. According to the CBC he’s even gone door to door to help constituents get the flags. I suppose if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have gotten 11,000 put up—given the state of Canada Post service in rural ridings. Pity he hadn’t spent that time in parliament, he could have been voting in favour of cutting postal service even further! Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry only has about 100,000 people living there. But getting 10% to put up the flags is accomplishing something, nevertheless!

If it’s something that everyone does, something which isn’t too annoying since it doesn’t actually get a reaction from many people am I upset? By the mailouts themselves, certainly not. I don’t approve of them but I don’t approve of a lot of things MPs like to do. What upsets me is this “Most Patriotic Riding” thing. Patriotism—at least Canadian patriotism—is more than just putting up a flag in your doorway. It’s more than voting Conservative, or Liberal, or New Democrat. How many Canadians in ridings like Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry laid down their lives for their country? How many have seen battle in the past few years, been driven from their homes by invaders? How many understand our political system and know that our head of state is the Queen and that when we vote we do not directly elect who heads the government? For that matter how many actually vote and exercise their democratic right?

No it isn’t the mail-outs that upset me. It is the presumption of patriotism based purely on party status and colourful flags.