I received this letter from a reader of my blog about her meeting with Mayor Jim Watson at a recent Strawberry social. I will comment on some of Watson's statements later. Previous posts on this topic.
This past Saturday, I attended a Strawberry Social put on by a local community association in Nepean. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson gave a short speech, and then mingled with the crowd.
I took the opportunity to speak to him and told him I was pro-life and that I was concerned about how Ottawa City Hall had treated pro-lifers on the day of the National March for Life back in May. (It's always good to take these opportunities to speak with politicians in person about things happening in your community that concern you, because it's often difficult to get direct answers to questions you send them via email. And besides, you can never be certain that office staff who handle your incoming emails will inform your elected representative of your concerns in the first place.)
I first asked Mayor Watson why the police were allowed to divert our March so that we were not allowed to proceed along our pre-approved route past the Human Rights monument, and why the police gave into the demands of the few pro-abortion protesters (maybe about 100) who wanted to block us. There were about 100 police officers there, so it was a mystery to me why they forced us to take another route. Why did the counter protesters have a right to disrupt our peaceful March, and for the second year in a row no less?
Mr. Watson's reply was that that was not City Hall's responsibility. The City is not responsible for how the police do their job; the City just funds the police force, that's all. He told me that any complaints should be made to the Police Services Board.
Then I asked him about his expressed support for "bubble zone" legislation around abortion clinics in Ontario, specifically around the Morgentaler abortion clinic in Ottawa. He said the "bubble zone" would just prevent people from protesting right in front of the abortion clinic on the same side of the street. He said we could still protest across the street. When I responded that media reports had said the bubble zone would be 500 feet or 500 metres, I couldn't remember which. he said that was untrue and that we would still be able to protest right across the street from the Morgentaler clinic as we do today. Of course, it's provincial legislation that has not come out yet, but that is his understanding.
I also asked him why the legislation was needed at all, since if someone was assaulted/spat on, etc (as media reports have claimed), then shouldn't the police be laying charges based on existing laws? Why is a bubble zone needed? To which he responded, we can't have police there 24/7.
And finally, I brought up the issue of the pro-life flag at City Hall being taken down after complaints by some city councilors, and I expressed my concern about an interview he had given to Global News where he said pro-life campaigns are "divisive" and have no place at City Hall (http://globalnews.ca/news/3447325/pro-life-anti-abortion-ottawa-flag-jim-watson-what-happened/ ). He tried to avoid answering the question at first by diverting the issue away from City Hall and asking me why Parliament Hill wouldn't allow a pro-life flag to fly (which I had no knowledge of.) Getting back to City Hall, I reminded him that he allowed an LGBTQ flag to fly, and I asked, shouldn't pro-lifers be treated equally and be allowed to have their flag flown as well? Isn't that only fair? Why the double standard?
His response hit the nail on the head for me as to why he feels it is fine to discriminate against us. He said (paraphrasing): "The LGBTQ community promotes human rights. You want to take away women's rights." So that was it. Plain and simple.
I couldn't just stand there and ignore such an accusation,so I started to say that that is not what we want to do at all, but I couldn't go any further because then he cut me off and said, "I'm not here to debate this issue; I'm here for a Strawberry Social," and he started turning to walk away. I remained calm and respectful the entire time, and in a last ditch effort, I politely asked him (even though I figured it was probably hopeless): "Would you be willing to meet with me sometime to discuss further." To which he curtly replied, "No, I'm not going to discuss this with you anymore; I've already given you ten minutes of my time" and he walked away. "Thank you for your time, Sir," I replied. (And I think it was actually only about 5 minutes of his time, not 10.)