With Canada Day quickly approaching I thought I’d look at the law dealing with our National Flag. There is a Law called the National Flag of Canada Act (2012). The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that all Canadians are encouraged to display the National Flag of Canada. The Preamble of that Act is: Whereas the Canadian flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity; Whereas the Canadian flag represents the principles of freedom, democracy, courage, and justice upon which our great nation is based; Whereas the Canadian flag represents all the citizens of Canada; Whereas the Canadian flag represents pride in our great nation and support for those who have sacrificed their lives for it; And whereas it is in the national and public interest to encourage the displaying of the National Flag. Other than that, there are no laws dealing with the Canadian Flag but “protocols” have developed over the years.
Within those protocols, there is an overriding theme: treat the flag with dignity.
There is actually a website laying out the rules for flying the flag (http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1444133232522). Some key points include:
• The Canadian flag takes precedence over all other national flags.
• It should be flown alone on its own pole.
• It should not be used as a cover for a table or a seat.
• It should not have anything pinned to or sewn onto it.
• It shouldn't be signed or marked in any way.
The flag also shouldn't be obstructed or touch the ground.
If the Canadian flag is displayed with one from another country, then the flags should be the same size. If you’re flying a Canadian Flag with one from another country, they should be flown at the same height. While the protocols around displaying the flag seem fairly ingrained, they aren't based on any particular historical document or longstanding law.
Like so much else, however, a flag will eventually reach the end of its useful life, and again, according to the protocols, it should be treated with respect. When a flag becomes tattered and is no longer in a suitable condition for use, it should be destroyed in a dignified way.
It can be burned privately. If you are going to dispose of it with other waste, it should be destroyed in a way that it won't be recognizable as the flag if it's found again. There have been boy scout troops around the country who will dispose of your old tattered flags. The scouts will dispose of your old flag in a small vigil. They salute the flag and they sing O Canada and they put them on the fire. Have a safe and Happy Canada Day.