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(LifeSiteNews) — Regardless of the story, the media and the LGBT movement would like you to believe two things: First, that every story is actually about the LGBT movement, no matter what; and two, that anyone who declines to actively endorse an ever-growing agenda which includes the elimination of boundaries around sexual behavior, relationships, and the two sexes is a bigot. Once you understand this framing narrative, you can begin to interpret and understand the way the media covers even small, local stories. 

Take, for example, a story published by CTV last month about the small Alberta town of Westlock, population 5,000. The town recently held a referendum on the following question: “Do you agree that: only federal, provincial and municipal flags may be flown on flagpoles on Town of Westlock municipal property; all crosswalks in the Town of Westlock must be the standard white striped pattern between two parallel white lines; and the existing rainbow coloured crosswalk in the Town of Westlock to be removed.” 

A majority of Westlock residents voted in favor of restricting flags to official government flags only; the margin was only 24 votes, but the turnout was actually higher than that of the municipal election itself. The bylaw was originally advocated in a 2023 petition calling for “neutrality” in public spaces. A key organizer of the petition, Stephanie Bakker, organized a block party called “I Don’t Agree With You But I Love You Block Party” and wrote:  

To our friends and family in the Pride community… despite what the Mayor and Council have been trying so hard to convince you of, those who voted for the bylaw were not voting against you. You are loved. Those who voted for neutrality did so with a genuine desire to keep our community whole and inclusive.

The mayor had claimed that “they” had “lost crosswalks” and “lost flagpoles,” but that council was committed to radical “inclusion,” nonetheless. Another resident who voted for the bylaw told CTV that sticking to “inclusive” symbols was the point. “I don’t have any issue with having a (crosswalk) or whatever, but when it comes to some of the other things, like, how many flags would we fly, how many – it just would never end, I think. That’s just my personal opinion,” he said. “I think we would never be able to satisfy everybody… So this, to me, satisfies everyone.” Except, that is, for LGBT activists who want a specific public endorsement of their particular worldview. 

CTV quoted a “board member at PFLAG Canada, a non-profit resource and advocacy centre for 2SLGBTQ+ people,” who said that “the bylaw demonstrates a lack of understanding of the significance of the Pride flag and other symbols.” In fact, precisely the opposite is true. Those who voted for the bylaw voted for neutrality because they did understand the significance of the “Pride flag and other symbols” and didn’t want to have those symbols forced on everyone in public spaces, which LGBT activists seem to believe they have a unique right to. As teacher and LGBT activist Nicky Vranas told CTV: 

We feel the eyes of not just Alberta, but all of Canada on our small town. It was not the outcome that Westlock needed and we will soon see the consequences. We are still only part way across the bridge of inclusivity, and this bylaw seeks to cut the ropes. But this is not the end. The Thunder Alliance has always focused on creating safe and caring spaces for everyone. So first, we will grieve because though we know this is not the end, it could have been. Then, we will continue this work with the help of our allies in this community and outside of it.

This is a tried-and-true strategy – make a local issue a national one by inviting the press in to cover a specific narrative, in the hopes that the pressure and the accusations of bigotry will result in a change in policy. I have written about this strategy in particular – the use of “pride” symbolism to target and bully small towns – extensively (you can read those essays here and here). One of those towns was mentioned by CTV in the closing line of their coverage: “In January, an Ontario town effectively overturned a bylaw that banned Pride flags.” 

Which brings me back to the framing narrative of this coverage. In both the example of the Ontario town mentioned and the new bylaw in Westlock, Alberta, the new policy stipulated neutrality – or more specifically, that universally inclusive flags alone be flown. Yet, the title of the CTV article echoed their closing line: “’We’re not wavering in our commitment to inclusion,’ says Alta. mayor after passing of bylaw banning Pride crosswalks, flags.” The entire story is presented not of a desire by residents for inclusivity or neutrality, but as an attack on the so-called “LGBT community” specifically. 

In fact, I could have written coverage of that same story with the title “Small Alberta town passes sweeping ban on Christian crosswalks, flags.” That headline would be just as accurate as the one CTV chose – but of course, it would also obscure the truth by insinuating that the bylaw was targeted at Christians. Another example: “Alberta town votes to ban all Muslim flags, crosswalks in public spaces.” Technically, that’s true – insofar as the bylaw restricts the flags to government banners only. But the headline is also very misleading while being technically true, and that is deliberate. 

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.