Since last October emergency vehicles in Toronto have been displaying a decal in support of our troops in Afghanistan. The decals were placed on the vehicles at the request of firefighters and paramedics, whose unions are strong supporters of the soldiers. The original deal was that the decals would stay on for one year and then be removed when the vehicles came in for routine maintenance this Fall.
The issue has turned into a hot political fight that will be decided today at a City Council meeting [Time limit for 'Support Our Troops' ribbons is up].
As you might imagine, there are some city councilors who want the decals to stay on the ambulances and fire trucks.
Some councilors believe the decision to remove the decals is a black mark on the city.It should also come as no surprise that some councilors want to stick to the original agreement and remove the decals in September.
"I was stunned this morning to hear on the radio that some official at the city had ordered emergency services, particularly ambulances, to take off the decal that supports our troops in Afghanistan," city councilor Brian Aston told CTV News on Tuesday.
"These decals are on there and it makes a very strong statement. To take them off, Toronto is the largest city, would just be an outrage. It would be a black eye on the reputation of our city," Ashton said.
Coun. Janet Davis said just as many councillors want to see the decals removed as those who support their presence on emergency vehicles.I'm one of those who believe that the "Support the Troops" ribbon is a political statement. I don't know very many people who are opposed to the war but have this sticker on their car. On the surface it seems like a no-brainer to offer support to our troops while opposing the mission. But, in fact, the term "no-brainer" is quite appropriate in this case. By blindly advertising support for the military you obscure the true difficulty in making rational decisions about how to deploy our army. It's no secret that most people who "support our troops" are also conservatives who are in favour of the war.
Mayor David Miller said while emergency crews should continue to support Canadian troops, the one-year time limit for the decals was enough time.
"It's controversial on both sides. There are people who see it as support for the troops and there are people who see it as support for war," Miller said.
The idea that the "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbons are politically neutral is something that only a supporter of the war would say. It's ridiculous. It would be like putting peace symbols on the trucks on the grounds that surely everyone supports peace.
I am very supportive of individual soldiers who are posted to Afghanistan. It's not their fault that our government is insane. They have to follow orders. But that does not mean that I "support our troops" in the way that the decal signifies. As a matter of fact, I do not support our mission in Afghanistan and I would withdraw the troops tomorrow if I could. Every soldier who dies in Afghanistan will have died in vain. That's hardly a way to offer support to our troops.
Having those decals on city vehicles sends the wrong message. For those of us who oppose the war it signifies that the fire fighters and paramedics are on the other side of the issue. That makes me uncomfortable since these are people who deserve my respect and admiration but they're not going to get it if they push a political agenda through advertising on their vehicles.
Take the decals off. It's no place for politics.