'Disingenuous at best': UCP raises and lowers flag for Pride Month in 24 hours

Published June 2, 2020 10:06 p.m. ET
Updated June 3, 2020 8:57 p.m. ET

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EDMONTON -- After flying the rainbow flag for 24 days in 2019, the UCP government raised and lowered the symbol of Pride Month in about 24 hours in 2020.

UCP MLAs posted photos of the pride flag at the Federal Building on Monday, but by Tuesday afternoon it had been taken down and replaced with a flag honouring Philippine Heritage Month.

“In June, Alberta joins the world in celebrating Pride Month. This is a time to recognize the triumphs and contributions of the LGBTQ2S+ community,” UCP Minister Leela Sharon Aheer said in a Monday release.

Aheer acknowledged that Pride Month was different this year because of the pandemic, but a spokesperson for her did not answer questions about why the flag was flown from June 7-30 in 2019 and not 2020.

“The Government Protocol Office adopted a flag flying protocol that aims to ensure consistency, respectful and equitable approaches. Ceremonial flags are flown for one day,” government spokesperson Danielle Murray said in a statement.

CTV News Edmonton asked Murray for a copy of that policy but one was not provided.

Party leader and Premier Jason Kenney responded Wednesday he was not sure whose responsibility it was to take care of the flags.

“I think they cycle through different flags to recognize important dates and commemorations.”  

“That’s not any sign of support or commitment,” Dr. Kristopher Wells, of MacEwan University, said of the 24-hour flag flying.

Wells, Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, said he wasn’t surprised to see the UCP take the pride flag down so quickly.

“Some would say it’s (flag raising) disingenuous at best given that this is the government that has rolled back important rights and protections to support LGBTQ students and teachers in schools, the first government in Canadian history to do that,” Wells said of a UCP change to policy concerning gay-straight alliances.

The UCP was criticized for the 24-hour gesture on Twitter and by NDP MLAs.

“I’m not surprised they took it down right away,” Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood said.

“It’s not about flying a flag. Flying flag is a nice gesture, but what matters are tangible actions and showing true ally-ship throughout the year. And this is a government that hasn’t,” she added.

There are four ceremonial flags outside of the Federal Building, in addition to several Canada and Alberta flags on the Legislature building and grounds.

On Tuesday, the Federal Building poles flew one Canadian flag, two Alberta flags and the flag of the Philippines.

Irwin said the government had room to leave the pride flag up.

“There’s no need to fly two Alberta flags, so they can’t justify that. To say there’s not enough room is false,” Irwin said.

“These are more than just symbols. They’re important statements about the kind of community we’re willing to create and the value we place behind diversity, inclusion and human rights,” Wells added. 

“I would say to the premier, will you raise the Pride flag for the rest of June and show support for the LGBTQ community like many other governments across Alberta, across Canada, and across the world are doing? ... How exactly are they showing their support to the LGBTQ+ community?”

Last year Alberta and the city of Edmonton both raised pride flags on June 7. 

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