THE GAZETTE, MONTREAL, TUESDAY, JUNE 9, 1992
Ideas wanted on Canadian unity
Consultant hopes 'Pro-Canada Showcase' will help
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Philip McMaster says he's sick and tired of whining Canadians.
"Everyone is always talking about how bad the situation is here how our country is falling apart," he said.
"I think people should shut up and do something about it. There are a lot of people with a lot of good ideas. But they are caught in a sea of disorganization."
McMaster, a freelance marketing consultant, hopes his ProCanada Showcase will help. On Thursday, he is inviting anyone with an idea about bringing Canadians closer together to a strategy meeting in his Bleury St. office.
Then McMaster plans to invite people back to an exhibition June 18, where they can display their pro-Canada message or theme to the general public.
Money for the exhibition and McMaster's office space were provided by anonymous donors McMaster said, and he thinks he knows why.
"People in Quebec are ashamed of promoting Canadian unity. In the rest of the country, they're waving flags. Here, we're afraid to expose ourselves."
Born in Val Morin, McMaster has lived in cities across Canada. He returned to Montreal in 1988.
McMaster doesn't want the meeting to be a political forum. "This isn't about the constitution. It's for people to get enthusiastic about our country."
But it hasn't been easy, McMaster said. When he called Canada 125, a government-sponsored organization which plans events to celebrate Canada's 125th birthday, the response was not good.
"They told me they were too busy to come to the strategy meeting," he said. "I respect what (Canada 125) is doing. But I think they are really missing the point here. They should be able to take one hour out of their schedules and come to the meeting, or at least send one of their staff members. Let's get our priorities straight."
Since March, McMaster has been handing out Canadian flag lapel pins to people on the street. He also helped design an ad which appeared in 35 newspapers across Canada on April 27 to promote Canadian unity.
Since the ads, on the theme "Quebec is our home / Canada is our country" appeared, McMaster has been answering letters from across the country.
"Eighty per cent of those letters have been supportive. It is quite encouraging"
So far, the response to the showcase has been good, too, he said.
"But it can be frustrating. There are about 20 groups and individuals who have responded, but it would be nice to have more."
Most of those groups and individuals, he said, are anglophone. "But I want to hear from anyone and everyone."
McMaster said he doesn't think his task is impossible, but it will require a lot of co-operation. "I don't want to be the king of Canadian unity. I just want to try to help fix the situation."
(Thursday's strategy meeting takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 901 Bleury St., fourth floor. For more information, call Philip McMaster at 204-931-3900)