A woman living in central Alberta says she nearly crashed her vehicle when she saw a Nazi flag and Confederate flag flying side-by-side at a rural property.
For at least the past five years, a rural property owner who lives outside of Breton, southwest of Edmonton, has displayed a Confederate flag at the entrance. On May 1, he added a Hitler Youth Nazi flag on the other side of his driveway.
When a neighbour drove past his property on Mother’s Day, she said she couldn’t believe her eyes, so she took a photo.
CBC News has agreed to protect her identity.
“I nearly drove off the road,” she said. “It shocked me because that’s not the community. That’s why I lost my biscuit and started contacting people.”
She said she called the local RCMP detachment, Brazeau County and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies(FSWC) in Toronto.
The FSWC contacted RCMP immediately and filed a criminal complaint.
RCMP said officers went to the property the same day and confirmed the existence of the flags. An RCMP spokesperson said they asked the landowner to take the flags down and he refused.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me,” Jaime Kirzner-Roberts with FSWC said. “I think you can imagine that anybody that’s motivated to put up a Confederate or a Nazi flag has some kind of agenda.”
Const. Chantelle Kelly told CBC news that flying a flag is not in itself a criminal offence.
Investigators are now trying to determine if flying those particular flags is enough to be charged with wilfully promoting hatred or inciting the public.
She said RCMP would likely consult with the Crown to see if there’s the necessary intent to file hate crime criminal charges. She was not able to provide a timeline on how long it would take to make a decision.
The FSWC is encouraging RCMP to lay criminal charges.
“These symbols are promoting hatred,” Kirzner-Roberts said. “Here in Canada, the wilful promotion of hatred is illegal. It is a criminal act.”
Politician calls for removal of flags
The reeve of Brazeau County said he doesn’t know the homeowner, but hopes he’ll decide to take down the flags he described as disturbing.
“There’s no time for this type of symbol of hatred and racism to be displayed anywhere, let alone in Brazeau County,” Bart Guyon said. “People are pretty stressed these days from all the different things going on and the last thing we need is one more thing to worry about.”
Last week, a Hitler Youth flag was also spotted on a flagpole south of Boyle. That property owner agreed to take it down when asked to do so by RCMP.
The woman who blew the whistle on the flags flying outside Breton hopes the property owner will have a change of heart.
“I hope there’s enough pressure that it makes it uncomfortable for him,” she said.
The whole incident has made the Brazeau County Reeve very uncomfortable.
“The world is changing,” Guyon said. “I hope this isn’t the direction it’s going.”
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