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The Great Flag Debate

The long and often bitter debate over the new Canadian flag began in the House of Commons on 15 June 1964. It ended by closure on 15 December 1964. Feelings ran high among many English Canadians. Opposition leader John Diefenbaker demanded that the flag honour Canada’s “founding races” and feature the Union Jack. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson insisted on a design that conveyed allegiance to Canada while avoiding colonial association. A prolonged, heated debate ensued. Historian Rick Archbold described it as “among the ugliest in the House of Commons history.” The new flag, designed by George Stanley with final touches by graphic artist Jacques Saint-Cyr, was approved on 15 December 1964 by a vote of 163 to 78. The royal proclamation was signed by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 January 1965. The national flag was officially unfurled on 15 February 1965.

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Communist Party of Canada

The Communist Party of Canada, founded in 1924 as the Canadian branch of the international Communist movement, is a fringe political party that advocates for a pure socialist society based on the ideas of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx.

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Faint Hope: Background

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on August 18, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

Danny Homer’s calm, detached tone belies the fact that he is talking about the murder that put him behind bars for life. The prisoner, now 38, explains that he was a teenager living in Regina in January, 1977, when he killed Ira McDonald, a 23-year-old partner in crime.

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Château Clique

 Château Clique, nickname given to the small group of officials, usually members of the anglophone merchant community, including John MOLSON and James MCGILL, who dominated the executive and legislative councils, the judiciary and senior bureaucratic positions of LOWER CANADA until the 1830s.

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Advance Directives

An advance directive (sometimes referred to as a "living will") is a legal mechanism which enables individuals to plan for their own incapacity, and specifically for the situation where decisions have to be taken with respect to their health care after they are no longer mentally capable of making (or communicating) these decisions personally.

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IRA Bomb Shatters the Peace

The modernistic landscape that has sprouted over London's once-derelict Docklands since the 1980s is the kind of target the Irish Republican Army loved to hit. Its centrepiece is Canary Wharf, the sometimes-maligned 52-storey office tower that is the tallest building in Britain.

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Canadian Bill of Rights

The Canadian Bill of Rights was the country’s first federal law to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was considered groundbreaking when it was enacted by the government of John Diefenbaker in 1960. But it proved too limited and ineffective, mainly because it applies only to federal statutes and not provincial ones. Many judges regarded it as a mere interpretive aid. The bill was cited in 35 cases between 1960 and 1982; thirty were rejected by the courts. Though it is still in effect, the Bill of Rights was superseded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

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Senate of Canada

The Senate is the Upper House of Canada’s Parliament. Its 105 members are appointed and hold their seats until age 75. The Senate’s purpose is to consider and revise legislation; investigate national issues; and most crucially according to the Constitution, give the regions of Canada an equal voice in Parliament. The Senate is a controversial institution. It has long been regarded by many Canadians as a place of unfair patronage and privilege. An unresolved debate continues about whether it should be reformed into an elected body accountable to the voters, or abolished.

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Monarchism

Monarchism is support for Canada’s system of government as a constitutional monarchy. Monarchism is distinct from royalism in that it is support for monarchy as a political institution, rather than for an individual monarch. Monarchism played a key role in the development of Canada and continues to be part of political and popular discourse.

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Law and Society

One of the most historic ideas about the LAW is that it is based on human nature or reason, and therefore simply reflects what is natural or reasonable, enabling society to function in a just and effective manner.

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Official Languages Act (1988)

The Official Languages Act (1988) consolidates all of the changes made to the Official Languages Act of 1969, providing more detail and making them clearer within a new legislative framework. This version highlights the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to the official languages (see also Language Policy in Canada).

This is the full-length entry about the Official Languages Act of 1988. For a plain language summary, please see The Official Languages Act (1988) (Plain Language Summary).

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The White Paper, 1969

The 1969 White Paper (formally known as the “Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy, 1969”) was a Canadian government policy paper that attempted to abolish previous legal documents relating to Indigenous peoples in Canada, including the Indian Act and  treaties. It also aimed to assimilate all “Indian” peoples under the Canadian state. The 1969 White Paper was proposed by Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development  Jean Chrétien and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau to widespread criticism. The policy proposed to eliminate Indian Status, incorporate First Nations under provincial government responsibilities, and impose land decisions, notions of private property and economic agendas on Indigenous communities. The backlash to the 1969 White Paper was monumental, leading not only to its withdrawal in 1970, but to a wave of activism, academic work and court decisions over the next five decades. (See also Indigenous Political Organization and Activism in Canadaand Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Law.)

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NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created on 4 April 1949. It was Canada’s first peacetime military alliance. It placed the country in a defensive security arrangement with the United States, Britain, and Western Europe. (The other nine founding nations were France, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Italy.) During the Cold War, NATO forces provided a frontline deterrence against the Soviet Union and its satellite states. More recently, the organization has pursued global peace and security while asserting its members’ strategic interests in the campaign against Islamic terrorism. As of 2021, there were 30 member countries in NATO.

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Propaganda in Canada

Propaganda refers to messaging that aims to spread or “propagate” an ideology or worldview. Psychologists have described propaganda as “manipulative persuasion in the service of an agenda” or communications that “induce the individual to follow non-rational emotional drives.” During the First World War, propaganda was used to recruit soldiers and supporters. The Second World War saw it take a dark turn toward using outright lies to spread hateful ideologies and practices. (See also Fake News a.k.a. Disinformation.) During the Cold War, governments in the West and East used propaganda to try to spread the ideologies of capitalism and democracy, or communism and the Soviet Union. Today, propaganda is most often found on social media; it is used to marshal support for, or opposition to, various political, economic and social movements.

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Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign was the de facto Canadian national flag from 1868 until 1965. It was based on the ensign flown by British merchant ships since 1707. The three successive formal designs of the Canadian Red Ensign bore the Canadian coats of arms of 1868, 1921 and 1957. In 1891, it was described by the Governor General, Lord Stanley, as “the Flag which has come to be considered as the recognized Flag of the Dominion both afloat and ashore.” Though it was never formally adopted as Canada’s national flag, the Canadian Red Ensign represented Canada as a nation until it was replaced by the maple leaf design in 1965.

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Girls Kill Teenage Schoolmate

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on December 8, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

The waterfront park where Reena Virk was viciously beaten and left to drown looks like a Canadian dream: clumps of trees dot one shore, while attractive middle-class homes line the opposite bank.

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Softwood Lumber Dispute

Softwood Lumber Dispute first arose in 1982 with a complaint by the US lumber industry that low Canadian stumpage rates constituted an unfair advantage. In Canada, provinces own most of the forest resource and administer the rates whereas in the US rates are set at an auction.