More than 31,500 people petition Ontario town to ban Confederate flags

For some reason, someone’s been flying a Confederate flag outside their house in Collingwood, Ontario.

There’s a lot to say about the flag’s history, but the fact of the matter is that it represents racism, slavery, segregation, and white supremacy. It’s an offensive symbol in the United States and simply nonsense to fly it literally anywhere else. Like Collingwood.

Which is why one local resident started a petition calling on the town to “prohibit the visible display of symbols like Confederate flag.”

“For me it’s not just the flag, it’s about all symbols of hate,” said Abigail Hitchens, who launched the petition. “All changes come from grassroots, they never come from the top down, we make the bottom wobbly so the top comes down to meet us.”

Collingwood mayor Brian Saunderson says he will gather opinions from his staff and lawyers to see if it is legally possible to pass a bylaw.

“It’s a very tough issue. I’m in favour of promoting tolerance and stamping out racism and I think how you have that discussion is a tricky thing,” he said.

“Do we want to see symbols of hate and racism in our community? Absolutely not. The question that becomes very difficult is how do you go about properly banning them so you can enforce it,” he said.

This isn’t the first time this month the Confederate flag has made headlines in Ontario. Earlier in June, photos circulated of a veteran police officer from Belleville sporting the flag on his shirt and flying it from the back of a golf cart.

The U.S. navy, marines, and NASCAR have all recently enacted bans to display the Confederate flag. Currently, 33 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities have bylaws prohibiting hate symbols. As it stands, the Confederate flag is not considered a hateful symbol.