Fire Away: Hey, Look Over There!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

  • A clever distraction in troubling economic times

    A clever distraction in troubling economic times

Written by Stephanie Rennie

The U.S. economy is weakening, a member of parliament is under speculation for spending fifty million dollars in his own riding for the G8 Summit, and the Conservative government is worrying about who is unable to fly Canadian flags out their apartment window.

The Conservative government proposed a law that would make it illegal for building owners to disallow residents from hanging the Canadian flag from their condominiums and apartments. Failure to abide by such law could result in punishments as small as a fine or as severe as two years in jail.

MP John Carmichael proposed this bill last week and has promoted its importance in granting Canadians the right to express their patriotism to Canada, despite their home address.

The proposed law seems straight forward enough. Even those living on the twenty second floor of an apartment building with a grouchy landlord should be able to hoist the Canadian flag out there window when they wish. This issue isn’t overly controversial, but it also isn’t relevant to the major issues going on in the national and global political scene right now.

I have absolutely no objection to allowing all Canadians the ability to hang a Canadian flag off their balcony if they wish, but I have a serious issue with the timing and distractive nature of this bill.

During a looming economic downfall in Europe and the United States, focusing any attention on this proposed law seems outrageous. Such timing leads one to believe that the government may be utilizing this new law, that a majority of Canadians might easily support, as a mere distraction. By exaggerating and encouraging Canadian nationalism in a time of much economic uncertainty, it is evident that the Conservative government might be employing tactics to distract Canadians from the economic issues at hand.

This takes me back to March 2010 when the Conservative government began reviewing the Canadian national anthem. The timing was impeccable.

After proroguing the government for two months, early March 2010 saw a speech to the throne, a presentation to the budget, and a debate about the wording of the national anthem.

Naturally, the nation had lots to say about the national anthem and people were vocal on each side of the fence about the issue. These voices that should have been questioning the government’s two month vacation in the middle of winter were instead quibbling about the anthem’s lyrics.

Like the current issue of the right to display the Canadian flag, a majority of Canadians overlooked the legitimate issues at hand and immediately started taking a stance on either side.

Since most Canadians have a connection with both the national anthem and the national flag, bringing attention to these imperative aspects of our heritage is quite clever when the government wants to divert attention.

Unfortunately, these distractions work quite effectively in shifting attention away from a weakening economy or soaring unemployment rates. I’m not suggesting that the Conservative government doesn’t have a plan for the economy, since that seems to be the focus of their attention, but I am shocked that this law is being proposed when full attention needs to be spent on issues that are more immediately relevant.

 There is no point in worrying about whether or not you are able to hang flags off of your apartment balcony if you won’t be able to afford to pay rent. 

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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