flagging tradition

Today is National Flag Day, it says here. For some, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the pennant that has represented Canada for nearly 50 years. To me, though, the day represents a missed opportunity for what could have been the coolest Canadian tradition of all.

The first Flag Day, a national day few if any Canadians had demanded, was ‘celebrated’ on this date in 1996. That day is best remembered, however, not for the unfurling of the flag, but for the vice-grip of the nation’s elected leader. For it was on that day that Prime Minister Chrétien famously placed a troublemaker in a headlock, in the process unwittingly inventing a truly unique method of marking a national day. Alas, like so many of Chrétien’s ideas, nothing came of it. Imagine: Each year, on Flag Day, the PM (or the Queen, if she’s in town) does a walkabout on Parliament Hill, and selects a lucky citizen to be placed in the national headlock. How cool is that? And you know Stephen Harper would welcome the opportunity to turn his metaphorical headlock on our lives into a literal one.

But no. A tradition that could have done wonders for tourism was not to be. Admittedly, it would be difficult to revive it at this point. Instead, Flag Day is, well, something we know of only because it’s mentioned in media each year at this time. And what do we do to celebrate Flag Day? Exactly. Oh, what might have been: Valentine’s Day followed by Executive Headlock Day. It’s only a matter of time before some nation catches on to the potential therein.

It could have been ours.

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