Norwich Township Ward 2 Councillor Alisha Stubbs. Photo from Facebook.Norwich Township Ward 2 Councillor Alisha Stubbs. Photo from Facebook.

Norwich councillor quits over Pride flag banning bylaw

A Norwich Township politician abruptly handed in her resignation after her council colleagues passed a controversial bylaw banning non-government flags, including Pride flags, from being flown on municipal property.

Ward 2 Councillor Alisha Stubbs had fought against the ban and had put forward a failed proposal to proclaim June Pride month in the community southeast of London. On Tuesday night, the council voted 3 to 2 to formally approve the flag ban that was originally put forward in April.

As a final show of outrage, Stubbs quit.

"I refuse to participate in this any longer," Stubbs said. "To the dog whistles and the blatant discrimination. I refuse to participate in this. To the hypocrisy of decisions made for peace while many citizens feel fear. I refuse to participate in this."

She went on to criticize the council for their lack of leadership and for pandering to religious groups.

The newly passed bylaw allows for only federal, provincial, and municipal flags to be flown outside township buildings. It states that the township has an obligation to maintain political, religious, and cultural neutrality and that messages on township property, including buildings and streetlight poles, may be considered community messages.

Ward 1 Councillor John Scholten was the councillor who introduced the new bylaw. He has previously said it would help the community “live in peace and harmony". Norwich Township has a large Netherlands Reformed Congregation which holds strong religious beliefs.

Mayor Jim Palmer and Ward 4 Councillor Adrian Couwenberg, along with Scholten voted in favour of the new flag policy. Stubbs and Ward 3 Councillor Shawn Gear voted against it.

Upon handing in her resignation, Stubbs urged the remaining councillors to "have the same concern for people as you do for roads."

"Advocate for people the same way you do for roads. Use your power for good. When you hear of people in our community that feel unsafe. Believe them. Just like you believe people who say their roads are a mess," said Stubbs. "Use your power in these positions to instill change. Be courageous to challenge the status quo of hate. Kindness, compassion and knowledge can save lives."

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