Prime Minister Stephen Harper will hand over a Canadian flag that has become a key Afghanistan war memento to the Governor-General, a last-minute change that comes after a veterans group said it was upset that the Prime Minister would receive the flag on behalf of Canadians.
Royal Canadian Legion Dominion president Gordon Moore told The Globe Thursday that he was unhappy Stephen Harper was the one designated to receive the last Canadian flag flown at International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Afghanistan when a veterans’ relay team brings it to Parliament Hill Friday during Day of Honour events. He “will accept the flag on behalf of Canadians,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a news release on Thursday.
The Prime Minister will now hand the flag to Governor-General David Johnston after he receives it. The Governor-General is commander-in-chief of Canada and plays a major role in recognizing the importance of Canada’s military.
The flag flew at NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. A three-year Canadian training mission in the war-torn country ended in March, capping more than a decade of military involvement in Afghanistan that included deadly combat operations, which ceased in 2011.
Mr. Harper designated May 9 as a one-time event to salute the tens of thousands of Canadian men and women who served in Afghanistan. In the future, the Afghanistan mission will be remembered in the Nov. 11 ceremonies.
Friday’s event will include a parade from the Canadian War Museum to Parliament Hill. It will be followed by two minutes of silence, a fly-by salute and public viewing of the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil in Centre Block’s Hall of Honour. The memorial is a series of plaques representing Canadians who died there as well as fallen U.S. soldiers under Canadian command.