Flag policy review done, mayor to be provided analysis in the fall

Posted on August, 29 2017 by Action Canada

Source: Jon Willing | Ottawa Sun

The city has completed a review of its flag-raising and proclamation policies but it will wait for weeks to present the findings to Mayor Jim Watson.

“My office has undertaken this review and will be providing the complete analysis to the mayor for his consideration in the fall,” according to city solicitor and clerk Rick O’Connor.

It wasn’t immediately clear on Friday why the city was waiting until the fall to bring the policy review to the mayor. The city said it was unable to provide more clarification until next week.

At Watson’s request, O’Connor’s office launched a review of the policy and procedures in May after an anti-abortion flag was permitted to be raised at Ottawa City Hall.

The city, after being pummelled with criticism for allowing the flag to be raised in the morning, lowered it by mid-afternoon.

Earlier this week, four organizations sent a joint letter to the mayor and councillors asking for the results of the Watson-ordered flag and proclamation review.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, Planned Parenthood Ottawa and the Ontario women’s committee of Unifor Canada wrote that they “are deeply concerned by the lack of apparent progress on this important issue.”

The groups want the city to stop giving abortion opponents a special day in Ottawa.

“Once again, we urge you to end the practice of proclaiming ‘March for Life Day’ and approving anti-choice flag-raisings that offer no consideration of an individual’s constitutionally protected bodily integrity and right to health,” the letter says.

When the city lowered the anti-abortion flag in May, it said the flag shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place because the request was made by an individual. That person is a RCMP veteran named Frank Barrett, who was disappointed the city took the flag down.

The city says proclamations are provided on request to groups where the request does not violate the Ontario Human Rights Code.

According to the city’s policy on proclamations, “the decision to issue proclamations is based on the recognition that the mayor represents all citizens. In doing so, acknowledgement is given to the commitment of individuals and organizations within the city whose efforts enhance our community. It does not, however, constitute a personal or civic endorsement.”

The city’s current policy on flags says there are two categories: flags that fly permanently, which are the Canadian, Ontario, City of Ottawa and Franco-Ontarian flags, and those that fly on “special occasions.”

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