The Markham city council has voted down a motion banning the raising of foreign flags on city property.
The motion was triggered by a ceremony to raise the flag of the Chinese communist regime last October outside the Markham City Hall to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the regime. Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and a few councillors, as well as Toronto Chinese consul-general Hao Tao attended the ceremony.
At the time, critics raised concerns about Canadian politicians attending a ceremony to celebrate the Chinese regime at a time when Beijing has arrested Canadian diplomat-on-leave Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor and blocked Canadian imports.
Hundreds of protestors showed up at the flag-raising event, protesting the Chinese regime’s detainment of Canadian citizens.
The motion to ban raising of foreign flags was raised by Councillor Andrew Keyes. A survey posted on Keyes’s website claims that close to 90 percent of people in his riding support banning the raising of Chinese flag.
The motion was voted at the council meeting on Feb. 11. About 70 people registered to make speeches on the topic.
“This flag does not represent people of China; it represents the brutal and ruthless regime of Communist Party,” said Markham businessman Dinh Tran who fled communist Vietnam in 1979. “To raise this flag is to accept and encourage the atrocity committed by CCP [Chinese Communist Party], to normalize the values that are not Canadian.”
Shanta Sundarason, who organized protests against the flag raising ceremony in October, said, “There are many other ways to celebrate the diversity of the various nationalities here in Markham, but raising the flags of human rights violating nations should not be part of that effort.”
Markham resident Joyce Lee said raising the Chinese regime’s flag in front of the City Hall is akin to political endorsement of the regime.
“It offends those [who] suffered because of the brutal regime,” said Lee.
Markham resident Anthony Nguyen listed the human rights violations committed by the CCP, such as organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, detainment of Uyghurs in concentration camp, and rights violations of Tibetans.
“When we allow the celebration of the anniversary of Communist Party, what are we endorsing?” said Nguyen.
“China is no different than North Korea or Vietnam, what would you do if North Korea asks if they can celebrate the anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s Party?” Nguyen added.
The debate on the issue lasted for seven hours. In the end, the council voted 8 to 5 to keep the current flag policy.
NTD News Toronto