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Olympics and Gay Rights

February 9, 2014 |

jimwatson_ottawasunThe mayors of Ottawa and Toronto clearly sit on the opposite side of the political spectrum.  While Rob Ford takes hits for saying that the Olympic Games should be about celebrating sport and the athletes and celebrating the hard work and training that goes into representing our country – the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, (and some others) believe that it’s more appropriate to raise the gay pride flag as a way to protest the lack of gay rights in Russia.

News flash to Jim Watson.  Rob Ford has it right, you and the other mayors who have chosen to take part, have it wrong.

As someone who supports gay rights and gay marriage, I unlike Mayor Watson, have the good sense to know when something is appropriate and when it is not.   The Olympics is not about gay rights, it’s about sport.   Showing solidarity with our athletes is not a time to play politics, it is about celebrating sport and hard work.  Shame on any politician for using this time to try to force feed a political agenda or to try to score badly gained political points.  It is plain wrong to try to hijack one issue to satisfy various lobby groups at the expense of our athletes.  Even if it’s symbolic in nature.

What is especially horrifying about this is that while Canada should be COMING TOGETHER as a country to celebrate sport, and our citizens celebrate the hard work of its athletes, some politicians think it’s ok to insinuate an auxiliary issue that IS divisive, and what’s more, counter-productive to gay rights in the process.

As astute and politically savvy as Jim Watson is (and why I’m centering him out), is that he should know better.  It is neither brave nor relevant to hoist the gay pride flag in the place of the Olympic multi-colored rings or the national flag of our country.  Last time I checked, the rings of the Olympics consist of colors.   It makes more sense to point out that the rings are of many colors, (among the obvious being that it represents the continents),… as such it also represents the many skin color hues, religions and belief structures. The rings are meant to be inclusive to all, for all.  Which like it or not, includes all belief structures, not just those who give money to a politician’s political campaign.

I wonder if these same Mayors would have the guts to do this during say – the Special Olympics?  Or during the World Cup when it’s hosted in South Africa, (which despite having some good legislation in practice to protect gay rights, in reality has a high discrimination rate, just the same).

Japan and South Korea (who have games coming in the future) aren’t exactly bastions of Gay Rights either, so what do the self righteous mayors of some of Canada’s major cities plan to do for an encore?  Demand that the Feds refuse to allow our athletes to participate?  Let’s see how politically willing they are to stick their necks out to forward their convictions.

So it begs the question – if Jim Watson actually had the guts of his convictions – would he leave the pride flag up for 365 days a year?   Let the voters have their say about his choice to put forth this one issue in the place of others facing the city, at any given time.

Would he and the other mayors issue an edict that will refuse to do business with countries let us say, like Iran where the punishment for being homosexual, is death?  Should Jim Watson then choose not to support anything that goes on at Algonquin College?  After all, they are now operating a male only campus in Saudi Arabia.  Lord knows Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly the gold standard for gay rights either.  In case you’re wondering – Jim Watson did the convocation address to the Spring 2013 graduating class of the Algonquin College Centre for Continuing and Online Learning, and of the Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism.

Jim Watson also led a delegation to China in order to try to drum up business.  Considering that China traditionally has frowned on gay rights, and the “State” closed down a gay pageant in 2011, as well as having it’s police forces strong arm clubs, bars and venues into refusing to join a planned gay pride festival,  it seems like there’s some distinct picking and choosing of when to sport the flag of his convictions.

Rather hypocritical if you ask me.


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Category: Canada

Comments (2)

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  1. Guy Annable says:

    JIm Watson had no problem with the beijing olympics and even went on a trade mission to China after the Olympics….not a PEEP or a tweet from out TWIT on that Olympics, but as soon as HIS AGENDA is up for an Olympics he….without debate or discussion hoists the pride flag which paints all of ottawa with the same Brush….our emperor has no clothes….but he has his flag

  2. Jay Tysick says:

    I think this was pandering to the media. Jim saw a very public story and wanted to get his face in the paper again. I didn’t see flags go up for Darfur, Syria, or dozens of other places where people are actually dying under oppressive regimes. This is just a silly flag he hoisted to get some votes though, and had he done only that, I doubt most would care.

    His publicly calling out the IOC and saying Russia should never have been given the Olympics is a whole other, and more serious, issue that deserves some thought. Who is he to use his public office to challenge international issues? We elected him to be Mayor, not Foreign Minister. His comments are reckless and outside of his mandate. Most alarming about this is that he doesn’t even understand the issue. The law in Russia has been twisted by the US media and is fact not even slightly anti anything. Russia has more protections in their laws for homosexuals than the US does. I doubt he read the law or educated himself on the issues before using his public office to speak to them. What if Canada is in the middle of an important trade deal with Russia and he is straining our relations?

    That he is ignorant on the issue and oblivious to the consequences shows why he is not prepared to represent us on the foreign stage and he should focus on Mayor stuff. As far as I know, we still have some ongoing issues with botched bridges that could use his attention.