September 25, 2013 - 11:33 AM
KAMLOOPS – Council chambers were filled with a lot of opinion, a lot of passion and a lot of questions today as councillors discussed a policy around street banners and what constitutes discrimination against women.
“I'm reading it and I'm trying to understand how it doesn't fall in line with this,” Coun. Nelly Dever said to open the discussion Tuesday afternoon. “It's in direct conflict with women's rights. How can we not deny this banner? How do we allow this banner to go up? It goes against the rights of women.”
Coun. Donovan Cavers was one of the most vocal against the banner though, saying he believed the banner was an infringement on women's rights.
“The organization forms the words and to anyone who knows the mandate of this group the banner says 'do not have an abortion week',” Cavers said in a plea to have lawyers take another look at the how the banner falls within the city policy. “That logo informs those words and that is where people have taken offense.”
A banner reading 'Protect Human Life Week' should be taken as just that, protect human life, coun. Pat Wallace said, adding there 'is nothing offensive in telling people to protect human life.'
Lawyers had the legal opinion the banner is benign enough it doesn't contradict the policy or human rights, chief administrative officer David Trawin told council, adding their opinion had not changed from last year when they reviewed concerns to the last two weeks when they were faced with another round of letters questioning the city policy.
“Legally our hands are tied,” Coun. Tina Lange said in reiterating Trawin's message. “We don't have the legal right to not fly it, but we have the right to not fly any, but it would be a shame to deny all the good because we don't agree, possibly, with one banner.”
Some discussion was had around the recent decision by Kelowna City Council to turn down a request for a proclamation recognizing Protect Human Life Week, which was also the focus of one letter included by an upset resident to council. Kelowna decided to discontinue a program similar to the street and pole banner program last year.
“We got lumped in with Kelowna.... The letter is about Kelowna proclamations, not banners,” mayor Peter Milobar noted. “We don't know why Kelowna changed their minds (and we're) trying to compare our policy to Kelowna. We don't know when it was created or amended, or why.”
A motion to have lawyers review the policy again and give a written letter outlining their legal opinion received the support of councillors Cavers, Lange and Nancy Bepple only. The decision to not take any action on the banner leaves the city exactly where it has been for the last several years — allowing any banner to fly that fits under the policy.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013