OPINION: Inclusion by exclusion?

In this file photo, acting mayor Jamie McGrail, left, is joined in holding the Pride Flag by Robert James Whittington and Marianne Willson during a flag-raising ceremony at the Civic Centre. A municipal councillor seeks to restrict flags flying at municipal buildings to just the Canadian, provincial and municipal flags.

In one of the more baffling moves seen at Chatham-Kent council in some time, council members may be asked to vote on a motion to ban any non-government group from having its flag flown at municipal buildings.

Rookie North-Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville brought forth a notice of motion April 3 to end the long-standing practice of allowing groups in the community to fly a flag outside the Chatham Civic Centre to mark specific events and raise awareness of their events and causes.

Under her motion, the only flags permitted at municipal sites would be the Canadian, provincial and municipal flags.

She said she’s bringing forth the motion to “avoid controversy and discrimination while encouraging inclusion.”

Flag raisings have been used by the Royal Canadian Legion, Community Living, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Black History Month, CK Pride, the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre, Franco-Ontarian Day, the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser for the homeless, and literally dozens of other groups.

To our knowledge, there has been no controversy and discrimination on the issue of flag raising.

We aren’t aware of the policies used to determine whether a group is allowed to fly a flag but we’re certain one exists.

Surely the councillor can’t be against veterans, abused women or children with cancer, so it will be interesting in hearing exactly which group is causing this “controversy” and whether the issue was brought to her by constituents or is her own personal cause.

We’re not big fans of banning things such as flags, books or history, although the practice seems to be gaining momentum in some American states.

If there is a problem, let’s find out exactly what it is and how to solve it rather than banning so many groups that contribute so much to our community.

Jubenville’s motion will be heard by council April 24, assuming she can find a seconder.





  1. You comparison to the Veteran’s or to suggest she is “against veteran’s” is one of the poorest displays of “journalism” that I have seen in a long time. Are you going to support raising a flag for Christians at Christmas, or Easter? What she is simply saying is, in my opinion, that all Canadians have EQUAL rights, no Canadian should have “special rights”. And you MUST treat everyone equally, not specially. The group represents a very small portion of society, and if another group, say prolife group, wants to raise the flag, are you going to defend that as well. Are you going to put up such a foolish statement that if you disagree with prolife flying a flag, you must be against veterans? In Canada we have laws that protect EVERYONE, no one is special, so it is all or none.

  2. Your words: “banning so many groups”. It does not seem that Ms Jubenville’s motion would propose to ban any groups. Rather, her motion would prevent the selective elevation of certain groups before and above others in a public space funded by all tax payers. To imply, as you did, that not displaying the flags of specific groups of people outside the Civic Centre is tantamount to banning those groups is, frankly, absurd. Further, the motion would in no way prevent any group from flying the flag of their choosing elsewhere, for instance on their own property.

  3. I agree with Councilor Jubenville that only the government flags should be flown at the municipal building as it is a government building. There are many other opportunities for groups to raise awareness and the Municipality and Councilors are free to voice their public support of any of them.

  4. If you bothered to actually talk to her you would find out in fact that there are flags being excluded from flying for certain groups. Her motion seeks to include flags from other organizations or non at all. The cherry pickers in council cannot use the flags as a means to push only their own agendas. All or non! Maybe you should actually contact her to get the whole story before you choose to shame her on a public forum.

  5. Perhaps you could broaden your search and you would find the groups that are not being given equal rights. As plain as can be, if not all groups then none. This is a fair motion.

  6. You can update your knowledge now, because there is controversy on the issue of flag raising. I can tell you that because I disagree with the current situation and how it is being handled now. I would second the motion if I could.

    Also Chatham Voice, you seem pretty against what Rhonda Jubenville is doing. How about you do a bit more listening and understanding then just writing rude articles.

  7. Perhaps you could have asked said councillor some questions, therefore enabling you to write a decent piece rather than this shoddy work that is written at a grade 4 level.

  8. Ms. Jubenville’s motion to fly only government flags at the municipal building is meant to be inclusionary, she did not motion to ban any certain flag from any certain group only, and she did not motion to disallow flags that are not government flags from the municipality as a whole.

    She merely wishes to avoid the perception of government backing of any one specific special interest group over another. This should not be happening. Regardless of any members personal beliefs or affiliations, the government is supposed to represent the best interests of ALL the citizens, and be non-partisan. Flying flags that are pro one group or another, completely disregarding any one segment of constituents does not promote inclusion, and quite frankly that IS discrimination. The LACK of a flag promoting any one group over another does not promote discrimination and division of society. The government buildings paid for by ALL tax payers is no place for any special interest groups to promote their ideals. There’s plenty of opportunity for special interest groups to promote their ideals outside of the realm of the government. I wholeheartedly support Rhondas motion as I feel it is the only way to remain neutral as a governing body should be.

  9. My father was in the military and we moved every two years. Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and I’m probably missing one. I’ve lived in cities, towns, and a village that had almost nobody living there anymore.

    Not once did I hear anything about flags, flags being raised, what flags to raise, what flags to not raise, when to, when not, and I can go on.

    Nobody really cared about flags until one of them had a rainbow on it. Some communities didn’t even lower the Canadian flag when someone lost their life overseas. Talk around it as much as you want on both sides, but the issue is centered around the fact that it’s this specific flag.

    Our county is a melting pot built on diversity, inclusion, and respect. I’m ashamed that there’s people that think these Canadian values are negotiable. If Canadian culture cannot protect vulnerable and marginalized communities than we are not the true north strong and free.


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