Thursday, August 7, 2008



I am a big fan of the Canadian flag and love wearing a flag pin and handing out these pins to strangers when I travel.
The rewards are often great. I recall a contingent of Ontario reporters pressing flag pins on waiters in some Italian city on some visit by an Ontario premier and getting a bottle of wine for each pin. Our stories that night were quite interesting for those of us who could still see the keyboards.
My sons have followed in my footsteps, although they are more generous with the pins and have travelled more than I have. (And I've been to half the countries of the world.)
My son Mark, who lives in China and finished an MBA there on an exchange between U of T and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, has given away Canadian flag pins by the hundreds. It can get expensive because our former Liberal MP, Jean Augustine, charged me for them. I resented that because MPs and senators don't have to pay for the pins. I guess it was retaliation for not being a supporter.
Mark has just returned from a visit home to Dalian (a port city in China known throughout history as Port Arthur, a battleground between the Russians and the Japanese.) He left armed with two sacks of pins compliments of Senator David Smith and MP Alan Tonks. Both nice guys, and friends, and we will forgive them for being Grits.
Mark has been several years in Asia (now working in marketing for Dell) and talks fondly of how pleased people there are when he gives them a Maple Leaf. A real mixed bag of recipients! There is a secret cop in Cambodia who wears a pin from Mark, and a few diplomats, camel jockeys etc .
Mark just sent me a message telling me of his trip to Beijing for the Olympics. Quite a nice way to celebrate his 37th birthday

"I flew on China Northern Airlines from Pyongyang-Dalian-Beijing back in May 2002. The next day, the return flight (6163) crashed off the coast of Dalian. Since then, I've been drawn to flying China Southern, as they bought out the assets from China Northern after Beijing quickly shut it down.

"As usual, today I chose China Southern to get to Beijing, a day before the airport in Beijing is closed to avoid a 911 into the Bird's Nest.

"As luck would have it, the highly respected U.S. Track & Field team (25 medals in the 2004 Olympics) were on the same flight. They have been in Dalian for a few weeks practicing by the sea side, needing cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and fewer hassles than they would face in Beijing.

"At the terminal, I spoke with a few of the athletes, coaches and doctors. Several of them, including Wallace Spearman--a contender for the 200 metre sprint--now have Canadian flags pinned to their badges."

Makes a dad proud!