Schools flying tattered Canadian flags

Toronto District School Board chairman Bruce Davis is launching a campaign to fix the tattered and...

Toronto District School Board chairman Bruce Davis is launching a campaign to fix the tattered and ratty Canadian flags hanging outside so many of the city's schools. Davis calls the damaged flags a "disgrace" and is vowing to fix them in 2010. Here he stands in front of Toronto's Lakeshore Collegiate, Tuesday, December 22, 2009. (QMI/Mark O'Neill)

DON PEAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

TORONTO -- Toronto public school board chairman Bruce Davis is running an idea up the flagpole that he hopes will replace the damaged Canadian flags flying over city schools and teach an important lesson in Maple Leaf pride.

The Toronto District School Board trustee is tired of seeing tattered and ratty versions of Canada's red-and-white banner flapping outside public schools.

"I'm concerned, we really need to have proper flags that are properly cared for," Davis told the Sun yesterday. "Frankly, it's the Canadian flag, so I think we should be taking proper care of it."

Calling the damaged flags a "disgrace" and "completely unacceptable," the newly minted board chairman said he wants 2010 to be the year the TDSB tackles the flag fiasco.

RESPONSIBILITY

"I'm not going to wait until the end of 2010. I can tell you this, children in our civics classes should be learning about this and they should be taking responsibility," Davis said. "If it means taking them down every day and putting them back up, I think that's important."

Davis has already arranged with Toronto MPs to ensure schools receive proper flags to replace damaged ones.

Yesterday at Lakeshore Collegiate on Kipling Ave., the Etobicoke-Lakeshore trustee took matters into his own hands.

With the help of the school custodian, he pulled down that high school's flag and replaced it with a new one from local MP and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

"Now that's a good-looking flag," Davis said, once the replacement was unfurled in the cold wind.

The TDSB has a Canadian flag outside every operating school. With 595 schools on 562 sites, that works out to 562 Canadian flags in varying conditions of wear and tear.

Just around the corner from Lakeshore Collegiate, Twentieth Street Junior School's flag looked a little worse for wear, stuck on a nearby tree branch.

School board officials said the head caretaker and principal "monitor the condition of the flag outside of their school and replace them when they seem to be in disrepair or poor condition."

According to the board's 2006 flag protocol, flags are to be flown daily while the building is occupied by any staff member, including over holiday periods like Christmas, March Break and in the summertime.

The flag is supposed to be raised in the morning after sunrise and lowered at sunset by the building's caretaker, the policy states. The protocol also mandates that any worn, noticeably faded or otherwise unfit for service flags should be replaced by ordering a new one through the school office.

It shouldn't be up to caretakers to raise and lower the flag -- something that doesn't seem to be happening at most schools anyway, Davis said.

He wants students to take over the effort.

Students in Canada's largest school board should have the chance to volunteer to raise and lower the flag at their schools each day, helping preserve the flags longer and teaching them a valuable lesson in Canadian pride, Davis said.

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MAKING WAVES

Some flag flaps over the years

- 1965: On Feb. 15, Prime Minister Lester Pearson and Gov. Gen. Georges Vanier hold the official ceremony inaugurating the new Canadian flag.

n 1992: At Game 2 of the World Series in Atlanta, a U.S. military honour guard flies the Canadian flag upside down during the national anthems. The Toronto Blue Jays go on to win the game, evening a series that eventually win.

- 1996: Then-heritage minister Sheila Copps introduces the One-in-a-Million National Flag Challenge. A year later, the multimillion-dollar program states it had achieved its goal and shuts down.

- 2008: A North York store owner flies the flag upside down and at half-staff for a few hours to protest the political turmoil in Ottawa at the time. Dickie Moore Rentals store owner John Moore admits the violation is flagrant but says he's fed up with Parliament Hill's antics.


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