PRINCE ALBERT, Saskatchewan, May 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – After promising to approve a pro-life flag to fly in front of city hall, the mayor now says it needs to be replaced by something less divisive.
According to Val Hettrick, past president of Prince Albert Right to Life, Mayor Greg Dionne initially said he would stand by his decision to fly the flag featuring Umbert the Unborn cartoon figure despite an outcry from abortion supporters.
“I give Mayor Dionne credit for standing up for free speech in the past,” Hettrick told LifeSiteNews. “But now he says we have to change the sign and the reasons keep changing. It’s smoke and mirrors.”
Dionne proclaimed Celebrate Life Week last year and says he will do so again this year, at a Monday ceremony in front of City Hall to mark the May 11 March for Life in Ottawa.
However, this year for the first time in more than 20 years, there will be no flag flying on the courtesy pole in front of city hall. For the past 10 years, the flag has featured an image of “Umbert the Unborn,” the wisecracking pre-born child created by cartoonist Gary Cangemi. Along with Umberto, the flag bears the messages,” Please Let Me Live” and “Celebrate Life.”
According to Hettrick, Dionne has provided three explanations for not flying the flag.
First, city council has discovered the Umbert flag is not a national flag but one put together by Prince Albert Right to Life. “He says, ‘It’s not national so we don’t have to fly it,’” said Hettrick. The city’s “flag protocol” does not require the flag to be that of a national organization.
Also, the image of Umbert is divisive, which is forbidden by the flag guidelines, because it will make women who have had abortions feel guilty. Finally, countering the argument that if City Hall has flown the Gay Pride flag for many years it should fly the pro-life flag, Dionne told Hettrick, “Homosexuality is legal.” The implication is that the homosexuality may be controversial, but it is legal. On the other hand, the pro-life flag is protesting something that is legal.
However, the guidelines say nothing about legal or illegal. “They just rule out what is controversial or divisive,” said Hettrick. “There have been protests about the Gay Pride flag too. It’s just as divisive and controversial as our flag.”
The decision has been left up to Mayor Dionne, who indicated to Hettrick he hopes her group will offer a different flag so that the city can fly it next year.
Two months ago, Dionne told reporters, “I strongly believe in freedom of speech and freedom of rights. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. There’s lots of things I see in the world I don’t like and I just ignore it.”
This week, he has not spoken with reporters and did not return LifeSiteNews’ calls.