Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yellow-Ribbon Campaign for Military Families Comes Untied

Businessman Decides Against Giving Free Decals
Because City Hall Wants to Sell Them

From CBC

July 24, 2007

Calgary councillors have decided not to put "Support our Troops" decals on city vehicles after a contentious and emotional debate at city hall, prompting the businessman offering the yellow-ribbon stickers to withdraw his donation.

Sean Burnand, owner of Can West Label Inc., said Tuesday he is disappointed that a simple gesture could become a political issue.

"This was a simple offer that we made to the city thinking that the city has thousands of vehicles on streets. But we're going to find a way to get these ribbons out there to private citizens and to corporations, with or without council's help on this."

On Monday, council unanimously approved a plan by Mayor Dave Bronconnier to keep the stickers off city vehicles and instead sell them to the public to raise cash for military families.

"Why don't we take those decals and place them in city facilities, and people could go and take those decals and put a five- and 10-dollar donation, and raise another $50,000 to do something meaningful?" he said.

But by selling the decals, city hall is missing the point, said Burnand, whose staff volunteered time over the weekend to help him make the first run of 5,000 decals.

'This is just about saying thank you'

Ald. Ric McIvor argued that putting yellow-ribbon stickers on city cars and trucks is a simple way to show public support for Canada's military.

"This is not about supporting any or all of those missions or deployments. This is just about saying thank you," he said.

But the decals have become politicized, argued Ald. Helen Larocque, who said some city workers could equate them as a show of support for the war in Afghanistan.

What if employees choose not to drive the vehicles? she asked. She also wanted to know "whether we would be in a position to have to force them to do so or whether they would be able to declare human rights issues."

Thanks to the publicity from the city hall debate, Burnand said he has received offers of support and donations from the public, and is now working with the Calgary Military Family Resource Centre to ensure any money he collects goes directly to the troops and their families.

He is also donating the stickers he made for the city to the resource centre.

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