Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/Vancouver 24hrs/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - A handful of university students have hopped aboard the left-wing Rideau Institute's "white poppy" bandwagon for Remembrance Day, promoting their pacifist ideology by piggybacking on the Royal Canadian Legion's red poppy campaign.
"Young people don't want to celebrate war," Celyn Dufay of the University of Ottawa said. "We want to work for peace."
MORE: White poppies 'disrespectful,' says veterans affairs minister
With the imposing National War Memorial behind him, Dufay unveiled a pin Monday he and a gaggle of activists will distribute this week.
The pin puts the Rideau Institute's "I Remember for Peace" slogan on a white poppy - a controversial symbol that has angered the legion before.
Bill Maxwell, secretary of the legion's poppy remembrance committee, said Dufay and the Rideau Institute don't understand Remembrance Day symbols.
"The red poppy is a symbol of sacrifice," Maxwell said. "It's not a glorification of war."
Conservative MP Erin O'Toole, a military helicopter navigator before entering politics, said the red poppy already stands for peace.
"That peace came at the cost of many, many lives," O'Toole said. "So, to run a simultaneous (white poppy) campaign that really detracts from the day I think is not only inappropriate, it actually undermines the message."
Dufay hopes to distribute about 2,500 white poppy pins, including at the national Remembrance Day ceremony next week.
Maxwell said that won't go over well with veterans.
"I think they may even take it personally," he said. "I'm sure they would."
Dufay said he'll distribute the pins anyway.
"We can't account for other people's feelings, however, no one has a monopoly over Remembrance Day," he said.