Flag Fest feasible without the Father

(Bob Harper, chairman of the 50 Years of Our Flag committee, speaks to city council's economic development and planning committee Tuesday about plans for Flag Fest.)

At the risk of disappointing some folks, I will make no attempt here to resolve the debate over who, if anyone, deserves the title of Father of the Canadian Flag.

Our most recent story on the matter summarizes the competing claims, enough to generate online the debate that seems to have been brewing in the community.

Nor do I wish to comment on the merits of Bob Harper and the 50 Years of Our Flag committee to have Brockville declared the Birthplace of the Canadian Flag.

There is enough information out there to suggest that, regardless of which community makes that claim, it will be something of a subjective claim.

What I am addressing here is the degree to which the birthplace claim is tied to the committee's other major initiative: a four-day Flag Fest in February, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Maple Leaf.

The two should not be run up the same frozen flagpole.

Whether or not John R. Matheson was the Father of the Flag makes a great difference in the matter of Brockville being its birthplace.

It makes little or no difference in whether or not we plan a huge party in February.

It's acknowledged by all that Matheson played a key role in bringing the Canadian flag into the world, and that is reason enough to celebrate in style when that flag turns 50.

Where celebrations are concerned, there is no need for exclusivity.

Which doesn't mean the debate over the flag won't continue. In fact, it's scheduled to resume in earnest at Monday's council meeting.

City councillors could also debate on Monday whether or not to underwrite the festival to the tune of $38,000.

It's also possible they will refer the matter to ongoing budget talks and deal with it later.

Regardless, Brockville has been without a significant winter event since the demise of Ookpik, and this Flag Fest could signal the start of a winter event reboot.

If done properly, it could bring at least modest improvements to tourism numbers in the offest of off-seasons.

If not, well, it would at least fill a gap in our winter cultural calendar.

That is all worth exploring in complete isolation from the debate over the flag's origins.

Besides, Councillor Jeff Earle already has a suggestion for covering the Flag Fest funding: those cute little “Birthplace of the Flag” bumper stickers he had printed to make a point about not needing consultants.

Sell them for two bucks each and there's your fundraiser for the $38,000,” Earle quipped at the planning committee meeting Tuesday.