Joel Harden MPP / Député, Ottawa Centre

Government of Ontario

Letter to OCSB on flying the Pride flag

Published on May 25, 2021

Dear Chairperson Mullan,

I write after receiving news that the OCSB will be debating whether to raise the Pride flag to commemorate Pride Month in June. I understand this debate will be happening tonight at your board meeting.

Ottawa is a welcoming city with vibrant Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer and Two-Spirit communities (LGTBQ2S). For decades LGTBQ2S folks have endured hate and repression just for being themselves. Plenty of effort has been placed into changing course, and symbols or gestures of inclusion from our public institutions matter in that work.

My thoughts are two-fold on your debate tonight. On the one hand, I am pleased that trustees Warren and Wittet have raised this matter to celebrate Pride Month at the OCSB. The fact that the Ottawa Catholic Teachers, CUPE Local 2357, and many OCSB staff and administrators have amplified this demand is promising.

On the other hand, I must register my concern that this matter is being debated at all. In the year 2021, we expect publicly funded institutions to uphold human rights, and gender identity is protected under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. I would encourage trustees to review the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s resources on gender identity and expression for background information.

Scripture tells us we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139: 14), and to "let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (Amos 5: 24). Let us remember this as Pride Flags fly at OCSB buildings this June and thereafter.


[Original signed]

Joel Harden
MPP for Ottawa Centre

CC: Shelley Lawrence, OCSB Trustee (Zone 9) Jeremy Wittet, OCSB Trustee (Zone 7) Spencer Warren, OCSB Trustee (Zone 4)