Quebec premier’s fleur-de-lis poppy pin generates ‘flood’ of complaints from veterans

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Quebec premier Pauline Marois raised some eyebrows this week for wearing a Fleur-de-lis pin in the centre of her Remembrance Day poppy.

On Wednesday, social media was abuzz with Quebecers watching Marois on TV in disbelief.

"Oh noooo Pauline Marois don't put a fleur-de-lys pin inside your poppy NO PAULINE DON'T," one person Tweeted.

Thankfully, The Canadian Press is now reporting that Marois has removed the Fleur-de-lis pin after a veterans' group complained that she was playing politics.

Her office released this statement on Friday:

"Her objective was not to create a controversy.

Madame Marois has a lot of respect for veterans and a lot of respect for all the people who've lost their lives for their homeland. The fact of putting a Fleur-de-lis was not at all, not at all, a political act...

"She'll continue to wear the poppy but, given the controversy, we will not put the Fleur-de-lis."

According to CP, the President of the Quebec branch of the Royal Canadian Legion said they were flooded by emails and phone calls from veterans complaining that the Quebec symbol showed a lack of respect to Canada's war veterans.

[ Related: Legions struggling to find poppy-selling volunteers ]

"I find it's very political and right now the veterans are very, very, very upset because they fought for Canada not just for Quebec," Margot Arsenault said.

"We are in Canada. If she wants to wear the poppy she should just wear it like it is."

This isn't the first time that Marois has ruffled the feathers — inadvertently or otherwise — of Quebec federalists and those outsides the Quebec borders.

In September the Canadian flag was was removed from the Quebec legislature as members of the PQ were sworn into office.

So maybe we all shouldn't be so surprised by Marois' antics.

On election night, she made no bones about her intentions of independent Quebec.

"I would like to talk to our friends and neighbours in Canada," she said during her victory speech late Tuesday night.

"As a nation we want to make the decisions about the things that are important for us. We want a country.  And we will have it."

Earlier this week, during her inaugural throne speech, she gave what PostMedia News called an "ode to Quebec independence."

"What do we want to do with our taxes — finance celebrations of the War of 1812, and the monarchy, or finance our culture and education?" Marois said.

"Let's create a new country, a country in our image, a country for all."

[ Related: Mayor criticized for invoking 'poppy defence' amid wedding probe ]

Marois and the PQ want an independent Quebec and they will do whatever they can demonstrate that.

This is what politics in Quebec is going to be like with a Parti Quebecois government — we all just better get used to it.

What the Royal Canadian Legion website says about pins and poppies:

"There have been many queries related to the wearing of the lapel Poppy, specifically as it relates to using a Canada flag pin or other such fastening device in the center of the Poppy.

It is the position of the Legion that the Poppy is the sacred symbol of Remembrance and should not be defaced in any way. No other pin, therefore, should be used to attach it to clothing.

While this should be the practice of all Legionnaires, it is recognized that the Legion cannot control its form of wear by the public. It is undoubtedly better to wear a Poppy with a Canadian flag in the center than not to wear a Poppy at all. The best that we can do is to encourage Legionnaires to wear it properly."