Pro-Life flag not up the pole, yet
Aug 17, 2012 / 12:17 pm
It turns out the Kelowna Right to Life Society (KRTL) jumped the gun when they announced the City of Kelowna agreed to fly a pro-life flag over City Hall.
In July of this year, Mayor Walter Gray proclaimed the last week of September as Protect Human Life Week. At that time, a request was also made to fly a so-called "courtesy flag" over City Hall.
In this case, a flag which had the statement “From Conception to Natural Death” was rejected for "advocating a point of view."
"The idea is the same way you've got the 'Pride' one . . . . you've got a flag up there and you've got an event going on," says Kelowna’s Director of Communications Tom Wilson.
"But the flag itself has some guidelines about not espousing a point of view."
So, the KRTL went back to the drawing board and redesigned the flag.
Then on Wednesday August 15, the society issued a press release stating, in part, "When Kelowna Right to Life agreed to remove the statement from the flag, city officials agreed to fly it."
They also said "...the city’s Director of Communications, Tom Wilson, approved the courtesy flag request after modifications were made to the original design."
Wilson says that never happened.
"They had submitted one version of the flag and we rejected it and we had conversations about why it was rejected and then the news release came out with their new proposal which hadn't even been submitted to the city at that point. We just got the new version from them yesterday (Thursday)."
The Executive Director of the KRTL, Marlon Bartram, admits the announcement was premature.
"We had a verbal agreement down here at our President's office, that if we remove that statement from the flag, the rest of the flag would be acceptable and they would fly it. Apparently what they need is a re-submission of the application and of the new design of the flag, which they have."
Bartram says he's confident the city will agree to the latest version.
"It hasn't gone through the process and been officially approved as of yet. I think it's just a little bit of mis-communication. I don't think the city's changing its mind at all, I think the city is being very fair and we're working together to come up with a design that will be acceptable to everybody."
However, making it acceptable to 'everybody' won't happen.
It is the 5th consecutive year the City of Kelowna has proclaimed Protect Human Life Week and Ruth Mellor would like to see the entire week done away with, never mind the flag.
The Chair of the Kelowna and District Pro-Choice Action Society says the city should not be involved at all.
"I don't think it's appropriate that the city, in essence, promote that point of view. It is going against the right of a woman to choose, on that basis, the city shouldn't be doing that. I know politicians think they're appeasing everybody, but in this case I think they are offending more people than they're appeasing," says Mellor.
She argues that there is nothing neutral about the flag or the proclamation since it promotes one group that is trying to take away the rights of others.
But don't look for Mellor's group to approach the city to proclaim their own week.
"We don't see it as two opposing groups, we see it as sort of a fringe group trying to take away the rights of the majority."
Meanwhile, the city itself may decide to put an end to flying courtesy flags in the future.
Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray says council will review the policy to see whether it's time to come up with something new.
"There is a concern that more and more, it's being used as a "banner facility" as opposed to a flag pole, so that's going to be looked at in the coming weeks. It (has) become more and more a marketing tool or a place to promote a cause, so council's going to review that because that was never the original intention."
Gray says flags traditionally hold deep significance for people, and he would prefer the city's flag pole reflect that.
"A flag is symbolic to start with, but it has very, very deep meanings to certain people. We've had people lose their lives fighting for their flag. So when we have a Canadian flag, that can not be offensive because we're all Canadians, a British Columbia flag because we're all proud British Columbians and it is City Hall. A city flag is very appropriate. But when you bring in 'visitors' to the flag pole, it does bring in to question the real purpose for a flag pole. A flag pole shouldn't be for promotion."
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