Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jim Watson - Why did you divert our March for Life?

Jim Watson's response to my letter about his decision to take down the pro-life flag.

If you wrote, you probably received the same form letter response.

And notice how he doesn't answer my question about why the March for Life was diverted from its approved route.

I've now asked him this question three times.

Dear Ms. Maloney,
Thank you for your email with respect to the March for Life flag raising. 
The process for issuing proclamations and approving flag raisings is overseen by the Office of Protocol to ensure that the City’s policies are interpreted without a political lens and in keeping with the Ontario Human Rights Code.  As the request from the March for Life group met the test of both policies, the proclamation was issued, as it has been for many years.  This is the first year the request has been made for a flag raising.  It was granted on the same basis as the proclamation. 
While the City’s Flag Protocol Procedures mirror the City’s Proclamation Policy in many ways, a review of this matter by the City Clerk has determined that the request for the flag raising was made by an individual.  This does not meet the criteria and, when this was discovered, the flag was taken down under the authority of the City Clerk. 
With respect to proclamations, all proclamations issued by the City of Ottawa are in accordance with a Policy adopted in 2002.  The provisions in this policy reflect the law in Ontario with respect to proclamations, which ensures that the City’s practices are in line with Ontario’s Human Rights Code.  The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that, because proclamations issued by Mayors in Ontario are a service subject to the provisions of the Human Rights Code, the refusal of a Mayor to issue a proclamation may constitute a contravention of the Human Rights Code if the decision of the Mayor was based on any reason that is protected in the Code or by case law related to the Code. 
Therefore, based on the requirements of human rights law, most municipalities in Ontario have chosen to either eliminate the use of proclamations altogether or issue them using broad criteria.  For this reason, the City of Ottawa’s Policy specifically indicates a Proclamation “should not be interpreted as an endorsement by either the Mayor or the City of Ottawa.’’ 
I have requested that the City Clerk review the Flag Protocol Procedures and the City’s Proclamation Policy, and report back. 
Thank you for your feedback, 
Jim Watson 
City of Ottawa

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