White poppies 'disrespectful,' says veterans affairs minister

A 'white poppy' alongside a 'red poppy' pin. (CAREMINE MARINELLI/QMI Agency)

A 'white poppy' alongside a 'red poppy' pin. (CAREMINE MARINELLI/QMI Agency)

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

OTTAWA — A pacifist campaign to distribute white poppy pins in the week leading up to Remembrance Day is getting under the veterans affairs minister’s skin.

“It really does show a total lack of respect for what, in fact, Remembrance Day stands for,” Julian Fantino said Tuesday. “And to try and intervene in this fashion, I think, is totally disrespectful, and I would suspect that most reasonable Canadians would see it that way.”

Fantino’s comments come a day after young activists with the left-wing Rideau Institute unveiled pins bearing the slogan “I Remember for Peace” at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

The University of Ottawa’s Celyn Dufay said the pins would be distributed to those who “don’t want to celebrate war.”

Conservative MP Ted Opitz, a former army reservist, joined Fantino’s charge, calling on the Liberals and NDP to denounce the “ideological extremists” behind the white poppy pins.

New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice shrugged off Optiz’s call.

“I never saw those buttons before, and I don’t know,” said Boulerice, who created a firestorm of controversy last April for a blog post that trashed the First World War as a capitalist conflict fought “on the backs of the workers and peasants.”

Liberal veterans affairs critic Jim Karygiannis, however, said the students distributing the pins have offended veterans.

“They made their sacrifices in blood, and for us to disrespect them, I think the young individuals should really reconsider what they’re doing and get a reality check,” he said.


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