Non-residents demand compensation for Pride flag rejection

The Ontario township of Emo, its mayor and two councillors find themselves before the province's Human Rights Tribunal in a contentious battle for shake-down compensation after the council members voted down pride proclamations in 2020.

Non-residents demand compensation for Pride flag rejection
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Emo township, its mayor and two councillors (one former) had their second day of tribunal deliberations for rejecting a Pride declaration and flag flying in May 2020.

Activists from Borderland Pride are seeking shake-down compensation from the tiny township with a population of 1,400, whose standing was in question when it was discovered they do not reside in Emo, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) heard today.

Yesterday, the OHRT heard from human rights lawyer Douglas Judson, who is a listed applicant in the human rights complaint, seeking $45,000 in hurt feelings damages — $15,000 from the township and $10,000 each from the mayor and two councillors.

Judson proclaimed failure to proclinate Pride resulted in hate against the LGBTQIA+ community. He gave a lengthy deliberation about conservative Christians imposing their views onto others while arguing access to a flagpole and forced affirmation of sexual tendencies is a human right.

Defendants Mayor McQuaker and councillor Toles, who are elected to represent their constituents, stated the community was not in favour of lengthy Pride proclamations that had subjective values and statements not shared by all community members.

The applicants appeared to struggle to establish strong standing in the case since none of them live in the Emo community, which begs the question: does the township have an obligation to offer services to non-residents under the Municipal Act?

The damages alleged by Borderline Pride amount to $12,000 — a number greater than the entire Emo council is paid in a year.

Interestingly, litigation was launched the year before Borderland received a federal grant for festivities in the next town over. The amount is comparable to the funding typically awarded to Pride organizations in municipalities five times larger.

The previous Pride declarations in the town omitted the onerous, ideological and political preamble of the 2020 version, which was voted down. The adjudicator notes this was done to protect the freedom of speech and conscience rights of council members.

The adjudicator withheld the decision, suggesting the case may take months to decide.

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