05/29/2013 11:40 EDT

'Great Canadian Flag' In Windsor Triggers Angry Debate


The debate over a proposal to fly a massive Canadian flag in Windsor, Ontario, has turned ugly and is making national headlines.

City councillor Fulvio Valentinis, who is originally from Italy, said he was told in emails and online comments to "go back where [he] came from" over questions he raised about the plan to fly the giant flag in the city's downtown.

The councillor told the Windsor Star he's disappointed the debate over the flag has "degenerated" into comments about who is and isn't patriotic.

The privately-funded proposal, called the "Great Canadian Flag Project", was brought to council by a group of Windsor residents who think the big flag, which would be 60 feet wide, 30 feet tall and stand on a 150-foot pole, will be a symbol of Canadian pride on the city's waterfront, which faces Detroit.

“This will show who we are, what we stand for and how lucky we are,” Windsor lawyer Peter Hrastovec told the Star in January.

Valentinis said he has asked about the maintenance of the flag and whether it would fly in the wind due to its large size. He also said constituents have expressed concerns about it obstructing views.

"Most concerns are in respect to the location and actual size of it," Valentinis told the CBC. "There's a feeling in some cases that it's maybe a bit over the top in terms of its size and the message it's giving."

The group proposing the flag's construction has budgeted about $350,000 and needs council's approval to start fundraising.

The proposal was on city council's meeting agenda Monday, but was put off after the flag's proponents didn't show up.

A poll conducted last year found that the maple leaf was Canada's most cherished symbol. One in five respondents said they'd consider getting a maple leaf tattoo.

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