Here we go again.
Last year the City of Prince Albert made headlines and sparked protests outside of city hall by allowing the life week flag to be flown on the guest flagpole.
The flag has a white background with two vertical pink stripes on either side, with a cartoon image of a fully-grown baby attached to an umbilical chord. It contains the words, “please let me live.”
Monday night at city council, local resident Lana Wilson urged the city to not fly the flag again this year.
It appears her plea fell on six pairs of deaf ears.
At the Herald, we don’t want to get into the philosophical, legal or ethical issues surrounding the highly controversial and complicated subject of abortion.
But we do have an issue with how this all went down.
Surprisingly, city council doesn’t vote on which flags to fly and which to deny. Presently, that decision is made by administration and by the mayor’s office.
Mayor Greg Dionne argues it’s a free speech issue, and that flying the flag does not mean the city is endorsing it.
He also suggests people who don’t like it should just look away.
However, the city’s own flag protocol policy states: “requests to fly flags of commercial, political or religious organizations require the approval of city council.”
Abortion is a highly politicized topic. It is a political issue.
Depending on your reading of the bylaw, then, city council should vote on the issue.
This isn’t just limited to this flag. Any flag that deals with political issues should be debated and voted on by council.
Other flags, such as those of, say, the Girl Guides of Canada, or the Ukrainian association, would not have to be debated. But those that deal with controversial, political issues can, and should be.
As to the Mayor’s insistence it’s not an endorsement from the city, we don’t buy it. A flag flying in front of city hall on the city’s courtesy flagpole sure looks like an endorsement to us, and, from the response to controversial flags in the past, it’s clear we’re not alone.
Mainly, though, we hope this doesn’t get ugly. This one flag has divided our city enough.
It’s time the city followed its policy. Debate political flags in council chambers, and put them to a vote.