LGBTQ2 advisory committee votes against raising Pride flag in front of Hamilton City Hall

Hamilton's LGBTQ2 advisory committee is calling on city hall to cancel the annual raising of the Pride flag, saying the city hasn't acted in solidarity with the community. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Hamilton’s LGBTQ2 advisory committee has voted unanimously against the annual raising of the Pride flag in front of city hall.

During its meeting last week, the committee put forward a motion calling on the city to cancel the flag raising on May 31 and instead hold an “open public discussion.”

Speaking with Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Rick Zamperin on the Bill Kelly Show, committee chair Cameron Kroetsch said the motion outlined a number of concerns. One of the issues Kroetsch mentioned was the continued employment of Marc Lemire by the City of Hamilton.

The issue came to light publicly when Vice published an article saying that Lemire, the former leader of a prominent neo-Nazi group, has been working in the city’s IT department for over a decade.

“Not only do we have the continued employment of someone who’s a known white supremacist, but we have the coverup of that,” said Kroetsch.

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Local lawyer Craig Burley posted documents on Twitter indicating that he had met with city officials in November 2018 to raise concerns about Lemire’s employment.

“Should the public and should marginalized communities have been made aware of that problem six months ago?” asked Kroetsch. “And was that the first time the city was aware there was that issue?”

READ MORE: UPDATE — Hamilton’s city manager promises investigation into former white supremacists employment

Another concern raised by the committee is how the city appoints members to its various committees and boards. There was public criticism following a recent appointment to the city’s police services board.

Kroetsch said he heard from multiple people with diverse backgrounds who were qualified and had applied for the position.

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“Why weren’t folks from marginalized communities selected, even though we know there’s a historical issue between Hamilton Police Service and some marginalized communities?” he said.

READ MORE: Hamilton police board appointment surprises, disappoints diversity advocates

The motion also seeks to raise the number of members allowed on the advisory committee from nine to 15 and address the city’s progress on implementing a protocol to protect gender identity and expression.

It remains unclear whether the city will go ahead with the flag raising ahead of Pride month without the participation of its LGBTQ2 advisory committee.

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