Amaranth Dufferin News Municipal Politics

Contrary to Reports, Amaranth Flag Raising Policy Unused

AMARANTH'S 'sorely-missing flag raising policy' NEVER USED FOR FLAG RAISINGS

The Orangeville Banner recently reported on the Township of Amaranth raising the Pride Flag for the month of June. It stated, ‘In the past year, Amaranth … developed a sorely-missing flag raising policy, which has allowed them to make proclamations and raise the flag for numerous occasions.’

This is false. Since the inception of Amaranth’s Flag Protocol and Proclamation Policy, there have been three documented flag raisings at the municipal office. Yet, Amaranth’s policy has not been followed on a single one of these occasions.

In Amaranth’s policy, the final and passed draft of which can be seen in the September 2, 2020 agenda, the stated definition of flag-raising is raising a flag in conjunction with a proclamation that has been endorsed by the council. However, none of Amaranth’s flag raisings have been accompanied by a proclamation. Furthermore, as per the policy, all applications must be made through a request form a month before the proclamation date. Council has not adhered to these timelines when receiving requests for the two flag raisings approved after the policy’s implementation.

In February, the Township of Amaranth raised the Pan-African Flag. Council offered to raise the Pan-African flag halfway through February during a Dufferin County Canadian Black Association presentation. Currie suggested leaving the flag up into March to compensate for the weeks it wasn’t flown in February. All of this shortly followed the Mayor’s controversial ‘all lives matter’ statements at a county council meeting

Next, the multicultural flag raised on the same day as the Pride Flag this year also did not follow the township’s Flag Protocol and Proclamation Policy. The request was made at the May 19, 2021 council meeting less than two weeks before the June 1 flag raising. Council granted this, although the request form was not completed or submitted a month in advance as required.

The third occasion was this year’s raising of the pride flag. Council unanimously resolved to do this on July 15, 2020. As the Orangeville Banner put it, this “was made to ensure that the flag would be flown in 2021, regardless of whether a flag policy is established by council.”

There has only been one request for a proclamation since the council developed the policy. The call was for Pride 2021. However, when it went before Amaranth’s council, the rules were referenced.

“Our proclamation protocol that we developed states that it needs to come in at least one month in advance of the occasion,” pronounced Deputy Mayor Chris Gerrits at the May 19, 2021 council meeting. “This request for the proclamation part is a bit late.”

“It was just a matter of process that neither of them had filled out the actual request form,” offered Amaranth’s Chief Administrative Officer Nicole Martin referring to the Multicultural and Pride Flag requests. Martin explained how there was only one call for a proclamation, to be read by Mayor Currie, which was for Pride 2021.

“So if we wanted to have a flag raising and proclamation, or if you just want to raise the flag without proclaiming it formally, that’s the desire of council,” said Martin. 

“I would suggest we go with the flag,” said Gerrits, “and we take a hard line; if it’s not received one month before when you want the proclamation, then we can’t approve that.”

The deputy mayor insisted that if they weren’t going to follow the protocols, it would be a waste of time developing them. But, again, the protocol defines flag-raisings as being accompanied by a council-endorsed proclamation. Since proclamations were not performed, no flag raisings have followed Amaranth’s policy.

Deputy Mayor Chris Gerrits fought for the creation of Amaranth’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community Advisory Committee. He volunteered to pay any committee expenses out of his pocket. Along with Councillor Gail Little, Gerrits attempted to have the pride flag raised last year after the national backlash to Currie’s homophobic remarks

Although the Flag Protocol and Proclamation Policy was cited as the reasoning for a proclamation not being made for Pride 2021, there may be another reason why some councillors didn’t strive for this. 

At the same February council meeting where Amaranth’s council offered to raise the Pan-African Flag, Currie shared the following anecdote he had caught wind of.

“I’ve heard, and it is a fact, that nearly all Negro spiritual songs are played on the black keys on a piano,” asserted Currie. “I hope the guy that invented the piano didn’t have that in mind.”

Songs written on the black keys of the piano are referred to as using pentatonic scales. Different ancient civilizations developed them, and many cultures incorporated pentatonic scales into music throughout the ages. Moreover, the black keys of organs and pianos used to be white until changed in the 19th century.

Those who observed the Township of Amaranth raise the Pan-African Flag in February heard Bob Currie repeat the narrative. Children were among those in attendance. It is possible that some council members did not want to chance comparable remarks being made while proclaiming Pride 2021.

When it comes to the Amaranth’s Mayor’s opinion on whether a proclamation should have been made for Pride month of 2021, he shared the following at the May council meeting.

“It’s just a few words really, not that it means a whole lot,” Mayor Currie commented.

Many may feel differently given the words spoken by Amaranth’s Mayor just a year prior.

Dufferin News conducts first-hand reporting of council meetings to ensure facts are accurately disseminated to the public.

Full Disclosure: Dufferin’s Spotlight is a partner with the Dufferin County Canadian Black Association. Furthermore, Josh MacEwen, the editor of Dufferin News, is a member of Amaranth’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community Advisory Committee.

References – Contrary to Reports, Amaranth Flag Raising Policy Unused

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