Soon after a pro-life flag at the city hall of the Canadian capital of Ottawa was raised to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the National March for Life on Thursday, abortion activists and city councilors vehemently condemned the mayor for allowing it, spurring him to quickly take it down.
Even though the event brought thousands of pro-life advocates to the capital to demand protections for preborn children, virulent social media backlash from abortion extremists put the pressure on Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who wasted little time caving into demands from the Left to take it down.
“I am pleased to report that the anti-abortion flag has been taken down,” the mayor tweeted Thursday afternoon. “I have asked staff for a complete review of the city's flag policy.”
Standing far to the Left
Watson followed up with a promise to look in to the situation for his Leftist supporters.
“I have asked the City's Clerk's Office for a completed review of the Proclamations and Flag raising policy,” he later posted on Twitter.
He then assured Canadians of his progressive stance on abortion.
“My personal opinion has always been that women have the right to choose,” Watson continued with another Tweet. “I share your concerns & have asked for a review of our flag policy.”
Pro-life advocate, 89-year-old Francis Barret, coordinated with city officials to fly the flag for the National March for Life and was in the process of writing Watson a letter of appreciation for allowing it to fly when he was informed that he had it taken down – a rash decision he called “ridiculous.”
"I’m being treated like a nobody,” Barret told LifeSiteNews. “I have my rights – the same as the next person. We did everything legitimately – it was signed by the mayor. This has got to stop. This is really discrimination. ... Could you imagine if they took the gay flag down? And they won’t let us fly that flag for one day – when they gave us permission? I think we should get an apology from the city."
The seven city councilors condemning the flying of the pro-life flag tweeted a statement Thursday morning demanding the immediate removal of the flag.
“The pro-life flag at City Hall today needs to come down immediately,” Ottawa City Councilor Tobi Nussbau tweeted. “Here's a joint statement on the matter.”
The progressive government workers expressed that there is little room for free speech for those who do not promote the dominant pro-abortion convictions.
“[We are] outraged that a flag representing a personal conviction to restrict a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion is flying on the grounds of City Hall for the first time in the City’s history,” the councilors proclaimed, according to LifeSiteNews.
The backlash on social media against Watson took the form of belligerent tweets.
“Probably an acceptable time to skip review of policy and just take that **** down,” one abortion extremist tweeted.
“Good!!!! Because that is some [expletive]!!” another Leftist barked on Twitter. “Who approved this?!?!????.”
In response to video coverage posted of the rising of the pro-life flag, the Abortions Rights Coalition of Canada posted a statement on Facebook condemning pro-life advocates’ freedom of speech and expression … because it did not jive with their philosophy on the worth they put – or lack thereof – on human life.
“This is totally unacceptable,” the coalition expressed in a Facebook post. “Could you please Tweet your disgust that the City would officially endorse an anti-human rights cause …Trigger warning: link goes to anti-choice video describing flag approval.”
More Twitter users announced their condemnation of the pro-life flag.
“[It’s] disgusting [to fly the flag and I’m] disappointed you're supporting these people who spread lies and force their beliefs on teens,” one abortion activist tweeted.
Another Twitter user apparently incurred physical symptoms from being so upset over the flag.
“Feeling sick to my stomach that [they had] raised a pro-life flag at City Hall,” the pro-abortion tweet read. “Pro life ≠ respect for life/.”
More about politics than policy
After Mayor Watson announced that he was reviewing the city’s policy on the flag incident, a clarification of the matter was given after referring to the books.
“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,’" CBC News reported.
On a technicality, Ottawa City Solicitor Rick O’Connor wrote a memo to city councilors claiming that because the request to fly the flag was made by an individual – and not an organization – its raising “did not meet the criteria.”
"When this was discovered, the flag was taken down under my authority," O'Connor informed, according to CBC News.
It was then implied by the group of councilors that Watson “went along with this.”
The seven outraged pro-abortion councilors included Catherine McKenney, Diane Deans, Marianne Wilkinson, Tobi Nussbaum, Jeff Leiper, Mathieu Fleury, and Jan Harder.
“[The flag represents] a personal conviction to restrict a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion," the group said, according to a local radio station, iheartradio.ca (CFRA).
Not a big deal …
Pro-life advocate Barret said he had no problems getting approval to have the pro-life flag raised when he made a request at Ottawa’s protocol office.
"I dealt with a man in the protocol department,” Barrett told CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Evan Solomon. “I had excellent talks with him. We were very agreeable to everything."
Barret noted that the pro-life flag occupied just one of more than a dozen flagpoles at the Ottawa City Hall, and that he initially wanted to fly a different flag, but when he was informed that it had to reference the “March for Life,” he was fine with it.
"I said, ‘Okay, we have a flag that says that,’” the pro-lifer explained. “It's a couple of years old, but I can get it. So I got it, and everything was fine. There were no disputes, no problems – nothing."
Through the entire process, no protests or resistance were staged.
“Barrett says he and about 30 other people were at City Hall around 5:15 a.m. for the flag raising,” the Canadian radio station pointed out. “He admits that because he didn't reserve the flag a month in advance, no one from City Hall could attend the raising, but a security guard came out to help.”
In fact, the city workers assisting Barret were more than helpful and accommodating.
"I put the flag up,” Barret continued on the radio show. “The security guards usually do it with a crank, but because we were having a little photo op, he said, 'Do you want to do it?' and I said, 'I'd appreciate that.'"