MPs cautiously frown on Quebec protesters stomping Maple Leaf

James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.



OTTAWA  - Federal politicians walked a careful line Wednesday when condemning separatist protesters who trampled a Canadian flag last weekend - with the most muted comments coming from the Tories.

The footage, circulated by an online group calling itself "Put Back the Flag," shows a Maple Leaf lying on the road near protesters in front of Montreal's City Hall last Saturday.

The video, posted on Youtube, shows the flag left lying on the road for cars to run over. Protesters can be heard cheering the cars on.

It then shows three protesters taking turns to stomp on it.

"We should show constant respect for each other in this country," NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said when asked about the video.

"One of the first gestures I was part of when we formed a government in 2003 was to put the Maple Leaf flag back in (Quebec's) National Assembly. So that's my track record."

The flag in Quebec's legislature has been furled and unfurled for years, depending on whether a federalist or separatist government is in power.

This week, it scored a victory in the National Assembly.

Opposition MNAs defeated a Parti Quebecois motion Tuesday to remove the flag from the legislature's upper chamber.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae called the protesters' actions "regrettable" and praised Quebec politicians for keeping the Maple Leaf flying.

A spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said only: "We respect and cherish our flag. We do not believe that Quebecers want to resume the old constitutional battles of the past."
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