Niagara Catholic school board trustee compares Pride flag to Nazi flag, video shows
Board director responds: 'The Pride flag is a symbol of love... the flag she referred to is a symbol of hate.'
A Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) trustee is facing criticism after a video surfaced appearing to show her compare the Pride flag to the Nazi flag.
A video posted to YouTube a week ago by Peter Taras, a former Ontario candidate for the People's Party of Canada, shows the trustee — Natalia Benoit — say she didn't want the school board to fly the Pride flag.
"Well, any flag at all... Like the Nazi flag, we don't want that up either, right?" Benoit says in the video.
Nazi fascists in Germany murdered six million Jewish people during the Holocaust in the Second World War.
The Nazis also jailed up to 50,000 LGBTQ people and sent up to 15,000 to concentration camps, according to Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
Benoit didn't respond to several interview requests from CBC Hamilton before deadline on Wednesday.
School board director 'very disappointed'
NCDSB director Camillo Cipriano told CBC Hamilton the comments came after Benoit presented a notice of motion at a May 23 board meeting to introduce a new policy to prevent flag flying.
"The policy is quite detailed but essentially the policy had components that if passed ... would essentially limit or maybe eliminate the ability to fly any type of flag, including the Pride flag," he said.
Cipriano said that will be debated and voted upon at the next board meeting in June, during Pride month.
He said he was "very disappointed" and "hurt" by her recent comments and said they don't reflect the views of the school board or staff.
"It is unfortunate we have members of our community who might think that way," Cipriano said.
"The Pride flag is a symbol of love ... the flag she referred to is a symbol of hate."
Politicians need to step up, advocate says
Saleh Waziruddin, an executive committee member of the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association, said elected officials making comments like what Benoit said is "a sign that things are really bad."
"This is pretty dangerous," Waziruddin said.
He said the comment adds fuel to hate-based campaigns across Canada against LGBTQ people.
The latest hate crimes report from Statistics Canada noted a 64 per cent increase in cases targeting individuals for their sexual orientation.
Public Safety Canada recently told CBC News it was "deeply concerned about the increase of anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate and the potential impact on the safety of Pride events."
In the Ontario township of Norwich, lawmakers voted not to fly the Pride flag on municipal property.
Meanwhile, Niagara police said Wednesday officers are investigating after a Pride flag at Trinity United Church in Lincoln, Ont., was cut down from a flag post and ripped up on May 27.
"The investigation is being treated as potentially a hate-based incident," Niagara police said.
Waziruddin said politicians need to speak out against hate.
"People will listen to elected officials taking a stand on this," he said.
With files from Benjamin Shingler