Thursday, January 11, 2007

Flags at Half Mast

On my walk home I pass the Phi Delta Kappa, an international Professional Association for Educators, offices on campus. They fly both the American and Canadian flags, so I guess it's based in Canada.

Interesting thing - today both flags were flying at half mast. Now, I get it for the US flag. President Ford died recently, and it's a general custom for flags to fly at half mast for 30 days after the death of a President. But what is the Canadian flag doing at half mast? Ford wasn't Canadian! Does Canada maybe claim Michigan and I just didn't know?

So I did an internet search (which consisted mostly of consulting the Wikipedia page) and found out that Canadian flags fly at half mast on the death of a Prime Minister, Governor General, the Queen, or other public servant of special note from the day of the death announcement to the day of the memorial service. Sometimes, the flag is ordered to half mast for a day for foreign leaders of note. Ford certainly counts here: he's widely appreciated in Canada for having insisted, in 1975, that Canada be admitted to the G7 (then G5 - and now it's the G8, but I don't count Russia...). In fact, Ford pulled something of a fast one to get it accomplished (invited Canada to a crucial conference without asking anyone's permission, a move that had precedent). So fine, I can see them wanting to honor Ford. But a quick look at a government page on the subject confirms that Ford only got one day, as is customary up there for foreign leaders, and that day was 2 January.


By the way, there are a number of fixed holidays when Canada flies the flag at half mast - including National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. I swear I'm not making this up. Canada has a national day remembering violence against women. Because, you know, violence against women is a national tragedy. Violence against men is a statistic. Or something.

What an annoying country.


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