The best flags are simple, memorable, distinct, and inclusive. Ontario’s provincial flag is none of those.
This petition calls on the Ontario legislature to replace it with a distinct and inclusive design.
The flag of Ontario is a recent invention.
Until 1965, Canada used a British ensign (a flag with the Union Jack in a corner) as an ad hoc ‘national’ flag. By adopting the maple leaf flag in 1965, Canada made an entry into the international scene with an identity independent of Britain, and in style! The maple leaf flag is now rightly recognized as one of the timeless classics of flag design.
This change infuriated Ontario’s premier John Robarts so much that he adopted a British ensign as Ontario’s flag. Just as Canada was finding its own voice and moving into the future, Robarts petulantly pointed Ontario in the opposite direction with this ‘revenge flag’.
It’s easy to see the failings of the flag of Ontario when comparing it to the flag of Canada.
The Canadian flag is simple and elegant, and would be easy to distinguish from any other flag, even from a distance.
The flag of Ontario is crowded and unoriginal, being one of many similar British ensigns in use globally, including in neighbouring Manitoba. The minimum qualification to be a flag is to be distinct, and it fails at this one job.
Style, though, is not its greatest sin. Substance is where it really fails.
At the same time that land acknowledgements are becoming common, we are flying a flag that labels this land as the possession of an empire.
We honour lives destroyed by colonialism by lowering to half-mast a flag that celebrates colonialism.
Our words are about diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation, but the official symbol of our province reflects a very different vision.
We cannot arrive at a post-colonial future while flying a flag identifying us as a colony. It was regressive the day it was created, and the mismatch between this symbol and our stated values will only grow.
No single act is going to make up for centuries of exclusion and erasure, but it is in our power to make sure that our public symbols represent all of us and the best in us. This is a necessary, visible, and concrete step that is in our power to take, so let’s get it done.
[Contact the petitioner at email@example.com]