Residents of an eastern Ontario town are upset after their mayor refused to lower flags to half-mast in honour of the sixteen people killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash earlier this month.
On Friday, a group of citizens took it upon themselves to lower at least one of the town’s flags, which flies outside of a community centre.
Mississippi Mills resident Kevin McCartney says he couldn’t believe the flags hadn’t been lowered in his town, a move that was made by other municipalities including Ottawa and Barrie, Ont.
“I’m just embarrassed,” McCartney told CTV Ottawa’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver.
“We’re finally getting it right,” he added, referring to the flag lowered by residents.
“But it’s the people who are getting it right,” he said. “Not the government.”
Mayor Shaun McLaughlin declined an interview but said in a blog post that the “terrible tragedy” did not fit town policy for lowering flags.
“The flag policy—which the mayor cannot arbitrarily change—exists so that we have scope,” McLaughlin wrote.
“If not, how would we know what calamities to respond to?” he added.
“The day after the Saskatchewan catastrophe, 23 schoolchildren died in a bus crash in India,” the mayor wrote. “Should we lower the flag for them?”
McLaughlin went on to say that a blog post expressing outrage about the decision was a “blatant partisan communication” from a “group of perennial complainers.”
He also pointed out that the local county and other nearby towns did not lower flags. “Our illustrious cabal of complainers never mentioned that,” McLaughlin wrote. “Another sign it’s all partisan.”