Council nixes flag restrictions
Community flags will continue to fly at the Civic Centre and all other municipal facilities after turning down North Kent Councillor Rhonda Jubenville’s motion at the April 24 meeting only to allow the Canadian, Ontario and Chatham-Kent flags.
Jubenville brought her notice of motion forward after a request by Life In Motion, a branch of the Right To Life Chatham-Kent organization, to fly its flag in May went unanswered.
Many councillors were unaware that there was no municipal policy, as the mayor’s office solely handled flag-raising requests.
Jubenville’s intent behind her motion to only fly the national, provincial and municipal flags was “to end controversy and discrimination while encouraging the inclusion of all Chatham-Kent residents.”
“I personally have no issue with flags being flown. I just have an issue with picking and choosing which ones are and which ones aren’t,” she said.
During her address, Jubenville said she received numerous “respectful” messages both for and against her motion but revealed she also was sent some hateful messages, including “two wishes of death and a witch casting a spell on me.”
Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff admonished those who sent hateful messages not only to Jubenville but to other Councillors.
“We are here as a society to make us better, so death threats or anything along that line is unacceptable,” Canniff said. “People can get their points across without being nasty.”
West Kent’s Lauren Anderson, South Kent’s Ryan Doyle, Chatham’s Michael Bondy and Jubenville were the only councillors who voted in favour of the flag restrictions, which was defeated 12-5.
Chatham Ward 6 Councillor Marjorie Crew entered a successful motion for administration to develop a policy and protocol for flag raisings with a draft policy to return to Council in September for a vote.
“I understand the intent around Councillor Jubenville’s motion, and I understand when community groups are excluded,” Crew said. “If that were someone I was passionate about, I probably would have done the same thing.
“I’m hoping that staff will come back with something that is fair, consistent and something that recognizes all groups,” Crew said.
Crew’s motion passed 14-3, with Doyle, Bondy and Jubenville the dissenters.
All current organizations with flag raisers scheduled through September will not be affected.
New requests, such as the Life in Motion group, will have to wait until the policy is established to be considered.
Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News