Anglo Society flag will fly in N.B. city

Bathurst city council will allow the controversial Anglo Society of New Brunswick to fly its flag outside of city hall, sparking an angry reaction from francophones in the northern city.

Bathurst's decision to mark 'Anglo Day' outrages francophones

Bathurst city council will allow the controversial Anglo Society of New Brunswick to fly its flag outside of city hall, sparking an angry reaction from francophones in the northern city.

Bathurst city councillors voted 4-2 earlier this week to fly the anglophone group's flag after the organization wrote a letter asking to raise the banner on Sept. 18 to "honour English-speaking citizens."

The decision will allow the group's flag to fly next to the Canadian flag, Acadian flag and Union Jack to mark "Anglo Day."

Matthew Glenn, the president of the Anglo Society, said his group should have the same rights as the Acadians to fly its flag at city hall.

"Why should they be allowed to fly their flag and we're not allowed to fly ours?" Glenn said.

"This is not fair. They have theirs up all over the place. They might call us bigots but we're not. We never was, we never will be."

City council's decision has angered francophones who say the Anglo Society has a reputation for anti-French rhetoric.

Group called 'anti-French'

Bruno Godin, a member of the Acadian Society of New Brunswick, said the flag should not be welcome in Bathurst.

"I don't think the city council truly understands the role of the Anglo Society. They're anti-French, anti-bilingualism and I think they'll have to re-consider their decision," Godin said.

Godin said he will write to city council opposing the decision and he expects many others will do the same.

According to the Anglo Society's website, it is "dedicated to the promotion and protection of the English language and culture in the province." And it said anyone can join the group "if you use English as your main language of daily living."

Of the 12,714 residents in Bathurst, the 2006 census indicated that 6,265 define their mother tongue as French and 5,735 indicated their primary language was English.

Multicultural city

Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet defended the council's vote, saying the Anglo Society should be afforded the same rights as other cultural groups.

"We are a multicultural city, we have flown many other flags upon request and council decided to go with this one," Brunet said.

When Godin's promised complaint comes into city hall, he will not have to convince Coun. Anne-Marie Gammon.

Gammon is the only francophone city councillor and one of only two councillors who voted against the flag.

"This is something that I feel very close to my heart, 52 per cent of the population here is francophone," Gammon said.

"So it's hard to take a decision that's going to upset so many people in our community."