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Steve Weatherbe

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Canadian pro-life flag under pro-abort assault: mayor to consult Human Rights Commission

Steve Weatherbe

PRINCE ALBERT, Saskatchewan, May 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- Canada’s leading pro-abortion group compared the pro-life movement to “racists” and “white supremacists” to get Prince Albert’s mayor to take down a pro-life flag, but could only wring from Mayor Greg Dionne the concession to consult the provincial Human Rights Commission over the dispute.

Joyce Arthur, executive director fo the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, sent  Dionne and Prince Albert’s city council a seven-page letter hinting at legal action and openly boasting that a similar threat led Kelowna city council to abandon its long tradition of allowing a pro-life banner across the city’s main street in 2013, during “life week.”

Now ARCC demanded Prince Albert end its 20-year custom of flying a pro-life flag for Celebrate Life Week every May. The flag bears a cartoonish image of an unborn baby and the plea, “Let me Live.”

But that innocent-seeming flag belonging to Prince Albert Right to Life, according to ARCC, “challenges women’s equality and rights,” “flies in the face of Canadian and international law,” “angered and upset many citizens,” would “recriminalize abortion,” and “impose forced motherhood onto women, even at risk of their lives or health.”

The flag masks an oppressive purpose, just like “European Heritage Week,” a cause the City of Regina approved in 2013, but hastily disapproved once it discovered “it was a white supremacist group” behind it.

Arthur kept up the comparison to racism in a point-by-point rebuttal of Mayor Dionne’s recorded comments in defence of free speech. “Would a black person’s angry reaction to a white supremacist flag likewise be dismissed as ‘personal opinion’ by the Mayor?” she asked.

The battle against the time-honoured pro-life flag drew a handful of protesters to city hall on two occasions, including two city councillors and a mayoral candidate in the next election and sparked a  petition of over 600 signatures, many of them, the mayor pointed out, from out of town.

Arthur claims these demonstrations make the flag in violation of the city’s flag policy, which bans flags which are controversial or divisive.

Dionne has responded by arguing that if the city took the pro-life flag down for this reason, it would have to take the gay pride flag down, since it too had drawn protests.

“We fly other flags that we receive complaints about, which the pro-choice group supports! And we’ve flown those flags. And we get lots of complaints about them,” Dionne told CBC TV. “Because anyone could phone up and say, well, that’s controversial and that’s divisive and offensive to me, take it down. ”

But those don’t count as controversies, Arthur contends, because the people complaining about gay pride are “likely motivated by hatred or prejudice.” But homosexuality is legal, and so is abortion.

“But speaking out in opposition to homosexuality or abortion is also legal,” argues John Carpay of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. “If the city disregards its policy about controversy for one flag, it has to do so for all flags. Section 15 of the Charter guarantees people equal treatment before the law.”

Anyway, Arthur argues, the right to free speech doesn’t take precedence over the right of women to be free of the discriminatory objectives of Prince Albert Right to Life.

But Carpay counters that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms “enshrines freedom of expression in Section 2(b). I wonder where in the Charter Joyce Arthur finds the right to silence people she disagrees with.”

As for the charge that the flag represents a discriminatory message, “There is no legal foundation to it,” says Carpay. “Discrimination is such a vague term. Anything could be discriminatory.”

But Carpay warns that if Dionne cares about fundamental freedoms, “he should consult the Justice Centre, not the Human Rights Commission. Human rights commissions have not been any friend to basic freedoms.”

Neither the Mayor’s Office nor the Human Rights Commission could say whether the mayor had made a formal request for advice.

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