Anti-abortion flag at Ottawa City Hall taken down after backlash
Mayor calls for policy review of city's official proclamation and flag-raising policy
The flag of an anti-abortion movement raised at city hall has come down Thursday afternoon after some city councillors expressed outrage and demanded it be removed.
March for Life flag coming down at City Hall <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash">#ottnews</a> <a href="https://t.co/xm4Z93e0Y3">pic.twitter.com/xm4Z93e0Y3</a>—@faganl
The raising of the March for Life flag, which coincided with a major rally in Ottawa, angered many on social media and prompted seven city councillors to demand it be taken down.
I am pleased to report that the anti abortion flag has been taken down. I have asked staff for a complete review of the city's flag policy—@JimWatsonOttawa
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was widely criticized for allowing the flag to be raised, but he says the March for Life flag was not approved by him.
He said he is calling for a review of the city's official proclamation and flag-raising policy.
The city's flag-raising policy allows any charitable or non-profit organization to request that their flag be flown, with the caveat that the group's undertakings or philosophy are not "contrary to City of Ottawa policies or bylaws, espouse hatred, violence or racism."
City solicitor Rick O'Connor, in a memo to councillors, said the request to raise the flag came from an individual, and not a group, and therefore "did not meet the criteria."
"When this was discovered, the flag was taken down under my authority," O'Connor said.
Group implied mayor 'went along with this'
LifeSiteNews.com tweeted a video of a March for Life flag being raised at City Hall as about 20 people looked on. No elected officials appeared to be present at the flag-raising.
In the video, a spokesman for the group said he was "so proud of the mayor and the [city] staff that they went along with this."
Watson said he never personally spoke to anyone from the anti-abortion movement.
A spokesperson for his office said the mayor received an email on April 24 referencing the March for Life and that he politely responded that their feedback would be taken into consideration, but did not take any further action.
Watson said he did not support the raising of the flag and has publicly stated he supports a woman's right to choose to have an abortion.
But when the flag first went up, some people did not see it that way.
My heart hurts that <a href="https://twitter.com/JimWatsonOttawa">@JimWatsonOttawa</a> would allow a flag to wave at City Hall which limits a woman's right to choose. It's 2017. Be better.—@Meg_Kelly1
<a href="https://twitter.com/JimWatsonOttawa">@JimWatsonOttawa</a> Canadian women have the legal right to make an informed choice. Lower the pro-life flag, this is NOT the Handmaid’s Tale.—@julianicolee
<a href="https://twitter.com/CaperGran">@CaperGran</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JimWatsonOttawa">@JimWatsonOttawa</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCOttawa">@CBCOttawa</a> 1. take it down asap<br>2. burn it asap<br>3. consider resigning or, in the very least, issuing a public apology—@mrsharpphoto
By early afternoon a number of city councillors had complained about the flag-raising and proclamation, with seven of them signing a letter demanding the flag be taken down immediately.
The flag at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ottawa?src=hash">#Ottawa</a> City Hall must come down immediately. Our joint statement on the pro-life flag at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottcity?src=hash">#ottcity</a> Hall: <a href="https://t.co/ma8Vbg7MqK">pic.twitter.com/ma8Vbg7MqK</a>—@cmckenney