City council seeing yellow over ribbons

One councillor calls it unconditional support for troops, another says empty gesture

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

City councillors in London are seeing yellow over a new campaign that hopes to see yellow “Support our Troops” ribbons on city vehicles.

Councillors voted last night after press time whether to put the magnetic yellow ribbons on all city vehicles.

The concept stemmed from the London Police Service, where the deployment of officers from the force to Afghanistan led the London Police Association to purchase the distinctive yellow ribbons.

Deputy Mayor of London Tom Gosnell brought up the adoption by the Police, and a recommendation was made to put stickers on all city vehicles.

Some members of Council, such as Controller Bud Polhill, are fully behind the motion.

“It’s ridiculous that people wouldn’t support our troops,” he said. “They didn’t have the choice to go and we should show them unconditional support no matter what you think of the mission.

“You support your family even if they do something [you don’t approve of],” he added.

Others on council do not find this issue quite so clear cut. Ward Nine Councillor Susan Eagle is against the ribbons.

“At best its an empty gesture, and at worst it’s a public relations attempt to turn around support for an increasingly unpopular war.

“Additionally, this $1000 to pay for the ribbons is coming out of property tax, which is an inappropriate usage of funds.”

“If the money is an issue, then [councillors] can raise the money privately,” Polhill countered.

Others outside council are uneasy about the motion passing.

Cory Morningstar, London’s chapter president for the Council of Canadians, gave a compelling response.

“The Council of Canadians is asking Canadians to say no to [the Afghanistan mission]. Though the people who have put up these decals have the best of intentions, by putting that decal on your car you’re showing support for the mission.

“If you support the troops you have to support the mission.”

The city of Calgary recently attempted to pass a similar motion for its emergency vehicles, a move that was voted down. Instead, it sold the yellow ribbons and sent the proceeds to military families.

If the motion doesn’t pass, the London Police plans on leaving the stickers on their vehicles.

As for Polhill, he offers ominous words for those who go against the motion.

“If the NDP side of our council decides that they don’t want to go that route then that’s fine. But you have to suffer the consequences from the troops and their families. There are a lot of voters who are or know people in the military.”

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