Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Communitizing

To repeat the practise of representatives selecting their constituents rather than the other way around, Council voted overwhelmingly for the second year in a row to fly the rainbow flag at City Hall during this summer's Pride London Festival with "very little debate." This will have been a relief to Coun. Nancy Branscombe who last year declared that "she didn't see the need for a debate about it," or for giving Festival organizers a $2,500 donation from city taxpayers that the festival's organizers didn't even ask for.

Coun. Branscombe would not apparently see the need for debate about any other cheap progressive credential on the table for that matter, if seen in contrast with her participation in the "emotional debate" against obligatory political statements when rejecting Council's decision to place yellow ribbons supporting Canadian Troops on City-owned vehicles. A political statement should only be obligatory, it would seem, when it coincides with a Councillor's own posturing.

Consistent with that theme, each of the eight Councillors who "showed the courage of their convictions" by voting against the yellow ribbons last fall demonstrated those same convictions by voting unapologetically in favour of the rainbow flag, with the exception of Coun. Harold Usher who hid — with or without courage — behind the City's failure to come up with a flag policy. It's hard to imagine that a policy will achieve anything other than enshrining the same privileges of definably aggrieved communities to flag representation at City Hall that Council votes already do. We should have no trouble imagining which communities would not be eligible, and neither would our politicians.

As difficult as it is for us to accept, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best was exactly right to oppose the City choosing which communities to support by flying flags… or, to be more precise, she gave a half-hearted and strictly temporary attempt to be right, after which she promptly voted along with every other member of Council save one to designate the Pride Festival as a "community festival." Council has a clearly contrived and expedient definition of "community" if Pride Festival participants constitute it. Or by community politicians mean only a constituency that asks for their imprimatur. That's a sorry case for a community to rest its legitimacy upon, but on the other hand it does seem to be a remarkably effective bait for somebody's representatives.

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