Mississauga councillor Carolyn Parrish lashed out yesterday at Peel officials for their decision to emblazon police and emergency vehicles with yellow ribbons, calling it a "jingoistic approach to world issues."
Peel Region chair Emil Kolb and Peel police have followed Toronto's lead in launching a program to place yellow ribbon decals on all marked police vehicles.
The ribbons, officials noted, represent support for men and women in Canada's armed forces and "the sacrifices they make in the service of our country both domestically and abroad."
Last night, Parrish wrote to the Star saying she strongly objected to politicizing police and emergency services. "All Canadians support our troops," she said. "We don't need to put that on our bumpers.
"Not all Canadians support our interference in Afghanistan, however."
The issue likewise divided Toronto city council recently, several members abstaining in what became an unanimous vote to allow the ribbon program created last year to continue on Toronto fire and EMS vehicles. It was later extended to Toronto police vehicles.
"Police are here to serve and protect," Parrish said.
"There are thousands of immigrants who leave the strife in their home countries for the peace of Canada.
"They don't want to approach a police cruiser for assistance and have to look at a political statement emblazoned on the vehicle in which the officer is sitting."
In a letter to council, Kolb said that, given current circumstances, especially the loss of Canadian troops, the region "should display these symbols on our emergency vehicles."
"In my view, citizens of the Region of Peel can easily differentiate between support of our troops and their personal views on the conflict in Afghanistan," he said, adding the move would be consistent with the emergency services' strong support for Canada's military.
Last night, Kolb's office emphasized it's not about the mission but about supporting service men and women and their families.
Parrish said she will bring up the issue at council next week, questioning the legitimacy of the move without consulting councillors.
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