KELOWNA, B.C., September 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A British Columbia mayor has caved into abortion lobby pressure, refusing for the first time in six years to proclaim the “Protect Human Life Week” on behalf of a local pro-life group.
“This year they just rejected our request for the proclamation altogether,” Marlon Bartram, spokesperson for the Kelowna Right to Life Society, told LifeSiteNews.com. The group, a registered charity in the city for over thirty years, has been granted proclamations nine times in total.
Mayor Walter Gray wrote in last year’s proclamation that Protect Human Life Week was to “promote respect and protection to all life, especially the infirm, the aged, the handicapped, and the unborn.”
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada blasted the proclamation at that time, calling its pro-life sponsor a “radical political and religious group primarily concerned with opposing and re-criminalizing abortion, not with protecting the infirm, aged, handicapped, or even babies.” Executive Director Joyce Arthur demanded that Mayor Gray rescind the proclamation, calling it “deeply offensive”.
Arthur said in a press release that Mayor Gray was right to deny the group its proclamation this year because it “amounted to discrimination against women.”
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Kelowna Right to Life Society received an email from the Mayor’s office last week — four months after submitting its application — saying that the city had “tightened up criteria for proclamations”.
The email — obtained by LifeSiteNews — stated that proclamations will not be approved if they “cover matters of political controversy.”
“In your particular case, the application is denied on the previously demonstrated basis of political controversy and because of your advocacy against existing Canadian laws,” stated the email from the mayor’s office.
The mayor’s office did not indicate in the email what was “controversial” about the proclamation nor did it clarify what part of Canadian law the pro-life groups advocated against.
Bartram said that while he is not a “conspiracy theorist”, it seemed to him that the city changed its guidelines so as to reject the pro-life group’s application.
Bartram said that he was a little surprised by the rejection, but not shocked. Last year the city ruled against the pro-life group flying its flag above city hall during the Protect Life week. To appear unbiased, the city scrapped the courtesy flag pole altogether.
“We’re disappointed,” Bartram said. “But at the same time the bigger picture is that children are being killed [by abortion] in our local hospital, and we’re not about to stop speaking out against that just because we don’t have the blessing from our Mayor.”
Mayor Gray’s move against the pro-life group comes at a time when Mayor Peter Milobar of Kamloops, 170 kilometers northwest of Kelowna, has refused to budge to atheist groups that have demanded that the city remove a pro-life banner authorized to fly on city-owned poles. A city administrator confirmed last week that the banner, containing a silhouette of a baby, young girl, and elderly woman standing beneath a tree and the text “One life can make a difference: Protect human life week” does not contain any offensive words or messages.
Bartram called the actions of the two mayors “exactly opposite”. He said his group is looking into its legal options.
Kelowna Right to Life Society has asked Mayor Gray to reconsider his stance, but no matter what the reply, it will go ahead with its planned activities for the Protect Human Life Week, running September 28 to October 6.
Events include a Walk For Life on September 28, a pro-life film night on October 1, an evening with Mike Schouten from WeNeedALaw.ca on October 3, and will wrap up with a Life Chain event on October 6.