Nfld. & Labrador

Will fly Tibetan flag again, St. John's mayor vows

The outspoken mayor of St. John's is pledging to fly the flag of Tibet at city hall in October, knowing that a similar action eight years ago sparked an international furor.

The outspoken mayor of St. John's is pledging to fly the flag of Tibet at city hall in October, knowing that a similar action eight years ago sparked an international furor.

Andy Wells, who has been invited to meet the Dalai Lama in Ottawa, asked council on Monday evening to fly the Tibetan flag at city hall to mark the occasion.

Council approved the trip and the flag request.

Wells raised the Tibetan flag — a symbol of independence for expatriates worldwide — in April 1999 on the request of local human rights activists.

The flag was removed after a Chinese trade delegation said it would cancel its trip to Newfoundland.

"I hope that the People's Republic of China is just as fed up and poisoned as they were … when we flew the Tibetan flag then," said Wells.

Wells, who favours independence for Tibet, described China's government as "repulsive and corrupt."

Wells's 1999 protest drew criticism from the Chinese community, as well as from other politicians, including then-premier Brian Tobin, who described Wells as "being a bit of a clown instead of a mayor."

Wells, who said he is dead serious about his views on China, nonetheless made light of some aspects of his pending trip to Ottawa, but at the expense of provincial politicians named in a scathing audit released on Friday.

Auditor General John Noseworthy found that various politicians used their constituency allowances to pay for expenses that included luxury items— such as wine, artwork and a Cartier pen— as well as goods as mundane as underwear and lottery tickets.

"I can promise you I will only charge appropriate expenses," Wells told councillors. "No wine, no artwork, no underwear, unless the underwear is edible. If the underwear is edible, then I can charge it as a meal."

Wells, a 30-year veteran on St. John's city council, has rarely shied away from controversialviews, especially while debatingfellow councillors.

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