Unanimous support from council for rainbow flag

Lisa Goudy
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Moose Jaw will fly the flag for the entirety of the Winter Olympics

Moose Jaw city hall will fly the rainbow flag for the duration of the Sochi Olympics.

City council unanimously approved a request made by Jennifer New, board member of Moose Jaw Pride Inc., at Monday’s meeting.

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport without discrimination of any kind. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer should not be a crime,” said New. “Discrimination and criminalization of being who we are is the real crime. Let’s join together and be a part of this worldwide united front and raise the rainbow flag in support of diversity everywhere.”

Moose Jaw will join a host of other cities in Canada that have risen the flag in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Those cities include St. John’s, N.L., Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec City, Calgary, Edmonton and Regina.

New said on Moose Jaw Pride’s Facebook page, the group received “overwhelming support” to ask Moose Jaw city council to join in on the “provincial, national and international display of solidarity and support for the LGBTQ people everywhere.”

“I can only hope that we will be in a position at some point where we don’t have to worry about how many flag poles we have, that this type of thing won’t happen and it won’t be an issue and people, organizations will not have to come to city councils to have support for this, that the support will be automatic,” said Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick. “One hundred per cent I very definitely support this.”

“(I’m) 110 per cent in favour of this,” added Coun. Dawn Luhning. “Hopefully we will be able to come to a time in this world where people realize we’re all people and we’re equal.”

The main point of council’s discussion on the request was about procedure.

“I’m opposed to the position that the Russian government has taken, but I’d like to maybe go back a little distance on this with the procedure. I’m wondering what happens if someone wants to come and fly a flag that’s in favour of not allowing LGBT people to participate in the Olympics,” said Coun. Brian Swanson. “I don’t think we have a procedure here at city hall for flying flags and who knows what the next request will be for a flag?”

He questioned if the city is not to fly the Canadian flag in order to fly flags from other requests from groups.

Coun. Don Mitchell said he didn’t believe it set a precedent for future flag flying requests.

“I don’t assume that every request to fly a flag would, by this precedent, be automatically put forward, but this certainly isn’t the first time that we’ve responded to such a request,” he said. “There were gay pride celebrations in the past that we’ve flown this flag at least a couple times. So it is a symbol of a movement in terms of civil rights that is very current and prominent.”

Matt Noble, city manager, said Mitchell and Swanson were correct.

“We only have one flagpole at city hall I’ve discovered and we should in fact have two and possibly three,” he said. “How we have accomplished it in the past is flying whatever flag we are requested to fly under the Canadian flag under the Maple Leaf and that is considered bad protocol.

“That said, it is something we have done in the past and I would certainly make a move to ensure that we install at least one more flag pole on city hall so we don’t encounter these types of issues in the future.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Pride, Moose Jaw city council

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Canada, Ottawa Toronto Vancouver Quebec City Calgary Edmonton Regina Maple Leaf

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