National symbols are important, of course, and the sensitivity to using the proper icon is nothing particular to Canada. On Twitter, though, a Beruit-based architect and blogger named Karl Sharro points out a bit of irony: “The woman on the bill isn’t Canadian, either.” He would be referring to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England, who is still Canada’s monarch. You have to wonder if the Canadians upset about a Norwegian leaf are bothered by the much larger foreign face that adorns those same banknotes.
It’s a small irony that gets to a larger issue in Canada, one that goes back to the maple-leaf flag itself. When it was implemented in 1965, it came at the opposition of a number of Canadians of English heritage, who wanted to keep the old flag of the British Empire. It’s a fascinating, if generally quiet, tug of war between a primarily Canadian national identity and a British heritage. And, yes, it’s particularly sensitive in French-speaking Quebec.