North Huron to review flag policy, despite some councillors' objections
BY DENNY SCOTT
North Huron Council’s adherence to its 11-year-old flag policy, which resulted in a decision to not fly the pride flag for June, which is Pride Month, generated feedback from locals asking for a change.
During council’s last meeting of May, it didn’t act on a request from the Huron County Museum’s Elizabeth French-Gibson to fly the flag, with council members attributing the decision to its flag policy, set in March of 2010, that says no flags other than the municipal, provincial or federal flag be flown.
Council received two letters during its June 7 meeting, one from Jen Elliott and one from Erin Gaunt, both concerned about the decision.
The letters pointed to other councils, including Huron East and Huron County, which chose to fly the pride flag to show support for the LGBTQ2S community and encouraged North Huron to do the same. Both writers encouraged North Huron to change its flag policy.
Reeve Bernie Bailey was the first to speak to the issue, saying there had been a “lot of controversy” and “a lot of ‘carrying on’ about this.”
He suggested council consider a motion to have staff review the flag policy and support Pride Month through its website and social media pages.
Deputy-Reeve Trevor Seip thanked one of the writers, Elliott, by name, saying she had consistent messaging dating back from when she contacted him to when she put forward the letter to council. He thanked her for following “the proper channels to make things be reviewed.”
Seip said that, as an individual member of council, he supports everyone and said he was simply following the North Huron flag policy that was in place.
“As one person on council, I am with that group,” he said. “I’m not here to discriminate or make people feel uncomfortable. That is not the intent of that policy. I completely support what this request is asking. I will do everything in my power to support this group and all other groups.”
Bailey offered a similar sentiment, saying he represents all of North Huron, not just sections of it. He then said some of his long-time friends were upset by the decision, but he rebutted, saying he was friends with them before becoming a politician and will be a long time after.
Bailey then said politicians shouldn’t be attacked, referencing the local media, for their actions.
Councillor Chris Palmer, who voted against reviewing the flag policy, said he believes people are equal and should respect the fact that the Canadian flag “was designed to make everyone equal underneath it.”
“It’s the united concept,” he said. “The writers of these letters, in their words, they said these groups feel marginalized. If they do, I can’t help it. I can feel marginalized sometimes in how I feel or conduct myself in council. It’s easy to be that way.
“It’s up to them, or any other group, to be part of society,” he said. “We’re not against anyone here.”
Palmer went on to say flying one flag could open the door for a multitude of others.
“We have [three flags]: federal, provincial and municipal,” he said, adding he isn’t against anyone by not flying their flag. “How many flags do we want to fly?”
Palmer finished by saying that there are hundreds of flags to fly, asking if council wants to see a “Hot Wheels” flag flown on a North Huron flag pole.
Councillor Anita van Hittersum respected Palmer’s position, but said it’s a “sign of the times”, adding that people need more than the Canadian flag and that symbol may not be as uniting as some people think it is.
Council approved having staff review the policy with Palmer and Councillor Paul Heffer voting against the move.