Is the problem flag poles or the rainbow flag?

Opinion Jul 17, 2017 by Mike Farwell Kitchener Post

Two recent flag flaps should have us looking inward and asking what kind of community we’d like to be.

I wrote last week about the vandalized Canadian flag at Themuseum in downtown Kitchener, and how the act of vandalism might get us thinking about more than 100 years of decidedly un-Canadian treatment of Indigenous peoples, and about our Indigenous neighbours right here in the region.

We also continue to debate the flying of the pride flag at local public schools throughout June, a decision that concerns Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht.

Albrecht told the New Hamburg Independent last week that he’d heard from many constituents who were “deeply concerned about the flying of the rainbow flag” at schools.

The issue, as we’ve been led to believe, is not with the rainbow flag itself but rather that it was flown on the same mast as the Canadian flag. For this reason, Albrecht is hoping the school board will take “corrective action” during the next school year.

We can assume that “corrective action” would mean having a separate flagpole for both the Canadian flag and the pride flag, but I have to wonder why Albrecht is calling on the school board for change.

It isn’t as though the board made this decision in isolation. In fact, it sought the counsel of Heritage Canada, which approved the flying of both flags on one mast as a pragmatic workaround when two flag poles were neither present nor practical.

In light of this, wouldn’t it make more sense for Albrecht to direct questions to his colleagues in the federal government?

The concerns over having both the Canadian flag and the rainbow flag flying on the same mast got all the more curious after a short drive I took around the region Sunday afternoon.

On that drive, I saw a city of Waterloo flag flying on the same mast as a Canadian flag at Hillside Park.

I saw a fast food giant flying its flag on the same mast as the Canadian flag outside its restaurant on Ottawa Street in Kitchener.

And I saw a major hotel chain flying its own flag on the same mast as the Canadian flag outside of its building on Fairway Road.

I’ve not heard a single concern expressed about these supposed failures of flag protocol, which leaves me to wonder: is the problem at our schools with the flagpole, or is it with the rainbow flag?

So what kind of community would we like to be?

If we want to be an inclusive community, that makes us a community free from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, physical ability and, yes, sexual orientation.

We have 150 years of wrongs to right on the Indigenous file. It’s been 50 years since then-Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau reminded us that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

Will we still be flapping about flags in another 100 years?

My Waterloo Region includes the rainbow flag, all it represents, and the people it supports.

I hope yours does, too.

Is the problem flag poles or the rainbow flag?

Opinion Jul 17, 2017 by Mike Farwell Kitchener Post

Two recent flag flaps should have us looking inward and asking what kind of community we’d like to be.

I wrote last week about the vandalized Canadian flag at Themuseum in downtown Kitchener, and how the act of vandalism might get us thinking about more than 100 years of decidedly un-Canadian treatment of Indigenous peoples, and about our Indigenous neighbours right here in the region.

We also continue to debate the flying of the pride flag at local public schools throughout June, a decision that concerns Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht.

Albrecht told the New Hamburg Independent last week that he’d heard from many constituents who were “deeply concerned about the flying of the rainbow flag” at schools.

The issue, as we’ve been led to believe, is not with the rainbow flag itself but rather that it was flown on the same mast as the Canadian flag. For this reason, Albrecht is hoping the school board will take “corrective action” during the next school year.

We can assume that “corrective action” would mean having a separate flagpole for both the Canadian flag and the pride flag, but I have to wonder why Albrecht is calling on the school board for change.

It isn’t as though the board made this decision in isolation. In fact, it sought the counsel of Heritage Canada, which approved the flying of both flags on one mast as a pragmatic workaround when two flag poles were neither present nor practical.

In light of this, wouldn’t it make more sense for Albrecht to direct questions to his colleagues in the federal government?

The concerns over having both the Canadian flag and the rainbow flag flying on the same mast got all the more curious after a short drive I took around the region Sunday afternoon.

On that drive, I saw a city of Waterloo flag flying on the same mast as a Canadian flag at Hillside Park.

I saw a fast food giant flying its flag on the same mast as the Canadian flag outside its restaurant on Ottawa Street in Kitchener.

And I saw a major hotel chain flying its own flag on the same mast as the Canadian flag outside of its building on Fairway Road.

I’ve not heard a single concern expressed about these supposed failures of flag protocol, which leaves me to wonder: is the problem at our schools with the flagpole, or is it with the rainbow flag?

So what kind of community would we like to be?

If we want to be an inclusive community, that makes us a community free from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, physical ability and, yes, sexual orientation.

We have 150 years of wrongs to right on the Indigenous file. It’s been 50 years since then-Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau reminded us that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

Will we still be flapping about flags in another 100 years?

My Waterloo Region includes the rainbow flag, all it represents, and the people it supports.

I hope yours does, too.

Is the problem flag poles or the rainbow flag?

Opinion Jul 17, 2017 by Mike Farwell Kitchener Post

Two recent flag flaps should have us looking inward and asking what kind of community we’d like to be.

I wrote last week about the vandalized Canadian flag at Themuseum in downtown Kitchener, and how the act of vandalism might get us thinking about more than 100 years of decidedly un-Canadian treatment of Indigenous peoples, and about our Indigenous neighbours right here in the region.

We also continue to debate the flying of the pride flag at local public schools throughout June, a decision that concerns Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht.

Albrecht told the New Hamburg Independent last week that he’d heard from many constituents who were “deeply concerned about the flying of the rainbow flag” at schools.

The issue, as we’ve been led to believe, is not with the rainbow flag itself but rather that it was flown on the same mast as the Canadian flag. For this reason, Albrecht is hoping the school board will take “corrective action” during the next school year.

We can assume that “corrective action” would mean having a separate flagpole for both the Canadian flag and the pride flag, but I have to wonder why Albrecht is calling on the school board for change.

It isn’t as though the board made this decision in isolation. In fact, it sought the counsel of Heritage Canada, which approved the flying of both flags on one mast as a pragmatic workaround when two flag poles were neither present nor practical.

In light of this, wouldn’t it make more sense for Albrecht to direct questions to his colleagues in the federal government?

The concerns over having both the Canadian flag and the rainbow flag flying on the same mast got all the more curious after a short drive I took around the region Sunday afternoon.

On that drive, I saw a city of Waterloo flag flying on the same mast as a Canadian flag at Hillside Park.

I saw a fast food giant flying its flag on the same mast as the Canadian flag outside its restaurant on Ottawa Street in Kitchener.

And I saw a major hotel chain flying its own flag on the same mast as the Canadian flag outside of its building on Fairway Road.

I’ve not heard a single concern expressed about these supposed failures of flag protocol, which leaves me to wonder: is the problem at our schools with the flagpole, or is it with the rainbow flag?

So what kind of community would we like to be?

If we want to be an inclusive community, that makes us a community free from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, physical ability and, yes, sexual orientation.

We have 150 years of wrongs to right on the Indigenous file. It’s been 50 years since then-Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau reminded us that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

Will we still be flapping about flags in another 100 years?

My Waterloo Region includes the rainbow flag, all it represents, and the people it supports.

I hope yours does, too.