EDITORIAL: It’s time to raise the flags

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It’s time to raise the Canadian flags flying at federal buildings.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially ordered them to be lowered to half-mast on May 30 as a sign of respect and mourning surrounding the revelations of grave sites of First Nations children who lived at residential schools.

Canadians responded with sadness to that news and continue to reflect on how to best recognize such tragic scenes from our past and how to best move forward with reconciliation.

But the flags must now come back up again.

“Since lowering the flag somewhat permanently at the end of May, Trudeau has nullified what would be normal reasons for lowering it,” Brian Lilley rightly noted in a recent column . “That includes national memorial days for police and firefighters and the passing of former Ontario premier Bill Davis.

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“Keeping the flag permanently lowered not only negates those days, and could soon negate Remembrance Day, it cheapens the gesture,” Lilley added. “Lowering the flag is an unusual act, which is why it is a sign of respect, while keeping it lowered is simply the new normal.”

Why isn’t Trudeau raising the flags? Perhaps it was initially that he wasn’t sure when was the right time.

Then again, it’s not like federal buildings haven’t lowered the flags before. The Liberal government should have just followed a similar timeline that’s been used in the past.

The answer though could be much more cynical than that. Trudeau may now be using the flag raising as a partisan political issue.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has come forward to request that the flags by raised by Nov. 1, in advance of Remembrance Day.

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We support O’Toole’s request, which is very reasonable. But the fact it’s coming from O’Toole may just increase the odds that Trudeau keeps the flags at half-mast.

That way, he can turn it into a political issue and cheaply accuse the Conservatives of not being sufficiently concerned about reconciliation.

This would of course be an outrageous thing for Trudeau to do, but then so was his trip to Tofino. So we wouldn’t put it past him.

These issues are too important to politicize. It’s time to raise the flags.

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