An Anti-Abortion Flag Was Flying Over Ottawa’s City Hall Today

Um, what.
Manisha Krishnan
Toronto, CA
May 11, 2017, 9:06pm
Lead image via Planned Parenthood Ottawa

An anti-abortion flag was taken down from Ottawa city hall Thursday after councillors and members of the public expressed outrage that it had been raised in the first place.

The flag commemorated the National March For Life—an annual anti-abortion rally held on Parliament Hill Thursday. An anti-abortion "outlet" called LifeSiteNews posted a video on Youtube of the flag being raised, noting "For the first time in Canada's history, the nation's capital this morning raised a pro-life flag over its City Hall." The article also said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson "proclaimed the day as the 'National March for Life Day in the Capital'."

By mid-morning, seven city councillors signed a letter demanding the flag be taken down.

"We the undersigned councillors are outraged that a flag representing a personal conviction to restrict a woman's right to safe and legal abortion is flying on the grounds of City Hall for the first time in the city's history," the letter said.

In response to being called out on social media, Watson tweeted that he supports a woman's right to choose and called for a review of the city's proclamation and flag policies. He said he did not approve of the flag being raised. Later in the day he tweeted, "I am pleased to report that the anti abortion flag has been taken down. I have asked staff for a complete review of the city's flag policy."

The mayor's press secretary sent VICE a copy of a memo written by city clerk and solicitor Rick O'Connor that apologized to councillors for the flag's presence at city hall. It said the request was made by an individual and not a group.

"This does not meet the criteria and, when this was discovered, the flag was taken down under my authority," he wrote.

O'Connor went on to note that the only proclamations that can be refused are those that are "contrary to the City of Ottawa's policies or bylaws, discriminatory, espousing hatred, violence or racism, illegal, not located within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa, politically or religiously motivated or intended for profit-making purposes." He noted that a proclamation is not an endorsement by the city.

O'Connor said the city's proclamation and flag policies will be reviewed, as per the mayor's request.

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