What a controversy a few metres of canvas can cause.
A pro-life banner has again been hung across Main Street in Kamloops this fall, prompting letters disagreeing with the move to City council.
Protection of Human Life Week doesn’t have any particular dates, or events, but the banner has been on display just as it has been for the past few years.
Today, council’s agenda package includes a letter from Allysa Gredling, a social worker who moved here eight years ago to study at Thompson Rivers University, and who stayed for a job and because she liked the city.
She sent a letter to council with 20 footnotes about Canadian law and individual rights and freedoms. She included a copy of a letter that West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund sent to the mayor and council of Kelowna in August 2012, about their proclamation of Protect Human Life Week.
That proclamation was made at the request of the Kelowna Right to Life Society, and Kelowna council ended up turning it down.
Kamloops council turns to its street and pole banners policy from 2008, which allows street banners hung on Victoria and Third for one week and Tranquille Road at Sydney Avenue for another week.
The policy states the banners must conform with the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, being free of demeaning, derogatory, exploitative or unfair comment or representation based on race, colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, creed, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital or family status.
It also states banners otherwise acceptable under this council policy that promote a specific theological or religious ethic or point of view must visibly display the name of the sponsoring group.
While freedom of speech is something we all value, the question comes up about whether the City is being used as a vehicle to promote a certain cause.
After all, the group behind the banner could easily have hung it elsewhere, or put up a billboard or an ad. They asked for City property.
The City dealt with the same scenario last year, and said the banner met its policy requirements.
The problem is taxpayers are pro-life and pro-choice. No one is going to take issue with motherhood causes like fighting cancer or heart disease.
But this is a topic that’s divisive and creates strong emotional reactions.
Is that what the banners are for?
If that’s the case, we’ll be waiting to see who wins the race to put up a banner about Protection of Mining in Kamloops Week, or Protection of Anti-mining in Kamloops Week.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.