Councillor defends display of rainbow flags

·2 min read

Veteran Coun. Randy Leonard said he is offended by a letter complaining about the town displaying rainbow flags along Main Street supporting the LGBTQ community.

During the first meeting of the newly elected council on June 15, Director of Administrative Services Ann Marie Vautour read into the record a letter from Suzanne Matheson.

"I am finally taking the opportunity to express my disappointment at seeing the Rainbow Flags flying again on the streets of Woodstock," Matheson wrote. "I do not think it is right or wise to single out specific minority groups but not others."

Leonard expressed his frustration with the viewpoint of Matheson and others who oppose the display of the rainbow flags.

"I kind of take offence to this particular piece of correspondence," he told council. That community is part of us and always will be part of us. I really can't understand why someone writes something like that."

In her letter, Matheson said the Canadian flag banners, which also adorn the light posts through downtown Woodstock, represent all Canadians.

"To single out the LGBT population is to make a distinction of them from the rest of Canadians," she wrote, "For example, you have not flown the Acadian Flag or the Wolastoqewiyik First Nation flag.

"I simply request that you consider either representing each individual Canadian groups' flag or simply flying the Canadian flag to represent all Canadians," Matheson wrote.

Deputy Mayor Amy Anderson expressed appreciation for Leonard's comments.

"I think I'd like to confirm we do fly the Canadian flag in addition to the other flags," she said. "The LGBTQ+ population faces additional barriers that other people don't have to deal with in their day-to-day lives."

Anderson said "support and affirmation" to the LGBTQ+ community are key to building a welcoming community.

Leonard closed the discussion by reminding the council and others that he organizes the hanging of more than 90 banners honouring veterans who served Canada each year, many of whom gave their lives.

"If she has a problem with that, she should contact me, too," Leonard said.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun

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