Feds spend $50,000 for flag’s 50th birthday celebration next month

The federal government has allotted $50,000 for celebrations for the upcoming 50th birthday of the iconic Maple Leaf flag.

OTTAWA — The federal government has allotted $50,000 for celebrations for the upcoming 50th birthday of the iconic Maple Leaf flag.

That’s compared to almost $4 million for a campaign marking the 200th anniversary of Sir John A. Macdonald’s birth, and $5.2 million spent on the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Canadian Heritage said Thursday that the $50,000 includes funds for promotional material, a photo exhibit during Ottawa’s upcoming Winterlude festivities and various “outreach products.”

In an email, a spokesman also said the department has provided more than $200,000 to organizations, including provincial lieutenant-governors, for their 50th birthday projects.

By way of contrast, the government announced earlier this week it will spend $1.5 million on a cross-country project to raise awareness about the Holodomor, a state-sponsored famine in Ukraine in 1932-33 in which millions starved while resisting Soviet collectivist policies.

The flag — the brainchild of Liberal prime minister Lester B. Pearson — turns 50 on Feb. 15.

Heritage Minister Shelly Glover wasn’t available to comment on complaints from flag historians earlier this week that the government is paying the Maple Leaf short shrift compared with other key milestones in Canadian history.

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger agrees with those who accuse the Conservatives of lacklustre party-planning.

He wrote in an email that he has taken it upon himself to “commemorate this very important anniversary.”

Belanger has produced a poster for his riding of Ottawa-Vanier, that will be sent to 14,000 students. It provides historical highlights of how the flag came to be and is available on his website, www.mauril.ca/the-canadian-flag.

“I offered to share the poster with my Liberal colleagues and am delighted that many have picked up the initiative so school students in other parts of the country will also learn how our flag came to be,” he said.

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