Minto residents receive anti-Pride flyer in mail

Deputy mayor says group's campaign is 'tearing apart the town'

MINTO – June has come and gone, but that hasn’t stopped a group of “concerned citizens” from campaigning against Pride Month celebrations and displays – and even the Minto Pride committee.

Last week many Minto households received a yellow flyer distributed from post offices in Clifford, Palmerston and Harriston.

The flyer, addressed to “all Minto residents,” suggests the municipality can’t “justify” having Minto Pride as “a sub-committee of council.”

It states “Minto council has ignored” the “900-plus residents” who signed a petition supporting a “bylaw ensuring crosswalks and flags/banners on public property remain neutral.”

Several petition organizers and supporters delegated to council multiple times before council rejected the bylaw at its June 18 meeting.

“Do you feel like your family belongs here?” the flyer asks, referring to Minto’s motto, “Where your family belongs.”

The flyer, which includes the petition on the back and encourages residents to send it to the town office, also:

  • takes issue with “story hour” event at the Pride in the Park event on June 9 in Palmerston;
  • suggests the town’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative has actually created division, exclusion and inequality; and
  • encourages residents to contact Minto councillors to complain that Pride “is not representative of all constituents of Minto.”

At the June 18 meeting, Mayor Dave Turton said council “can not support a bylaw to ensure crosswalks and flags, banners, on public property remain neutral.”

Also at that meeting, council unanimously approved a new commemoration policy that effectively allows Pride banners to be displayed – for one month only.

“I certainly thought we came to a good compromise for everybody involved,” Turton told the Advertiser, referring to the new policy.

“We’re very disappointed (about the flyer),” he added.

“We’ve made it very clear … if there is more to come, we will listen and we’ll certainly deal with it.”

Flyer ‘should not have been delivered’

Some people who received the flyer in the mail reported their concerns to Canada Post, with several people referring to it online as “hate mail.”

In an email statement, Canada Post media relations Valérie Chartrand explained the flyers did not meet the requirements for Neighbourhood Mail and “should not have been delivered.”

Canada Post requires customers’ name to be visible on the outside of mail items.

“In this case, the sender’s information was provided … but was not visible on the mailing itself,” added Chartrand.

She noted Canada Post will be reviewing proper protocols and guidelines to ensure this “does not happen again.”

The contents of the flyer, although upsetting to some, does not meet the definition of non-mailable matter under Canada Post’s regulations.

“Canada Post does not have the right to refuse a mail item because it, its employees or any customer objects to the item’s content,” regulations state.

Front and back of the distributed flyer. Advertiser image


‘Tearing apart the town’

Deputy mayor Jean Anderson spoke passionately about “neutrality” during a previous meeting.

She told the Advertiser her right to vote on council is being questioned.

“A letter is coming to council this week saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to vote because I have a transgender grand-person,” Anderson said.

“If you want to run against me for office, go right ahead.”

Anderson added, “This is tearing apart the town … I am very disturbed by the hate.”

She explained the letters could be considered hateful because they “target the Pride group specifically.”

Residents react

Residents took to the Minto ON Residents Facebook page to express their opinions about the flyer.

“It broke my heart to see this yellow flyer in my mail, this group does not represent me or the Minto I want to live in,” said one person.

Another user supported the flyer, saying, “The flyer I received showed no evidence of hate … you are not entitled to make false claims without backing them up.”

Minto resident Juanita Wilkins told the Advertiser she was “hugely disappointed” when she received the flyer in the mail on July 3.

She noted the “attitude” represented in the flyer is the reason her gay son no longer lives in Minto, but in the city.

“We live in a world where we should be able to accept people for who they are and not make judgment … it’s just hateful and it’s not progressive,” Wilkins added.

She said she is not afraid to put her name out there, unlike the “anonymous flyer” with no names attached.

Minto Pride officials stated in an email to the Advertiser, “The accusation in the flyer that the Town’s DEI initiatives cause division, exclusion and inequality is a bold statement coming from the people who are causing this divisiveness by continually spreading misinformation and hatred.” 

The “concerned citizens” have not once reached out directly to the committee for “information or explanation,” but instead “rely on assumptions with no desire to learn or grow,” added the Pride Committee. 

The committee explained several accusations in the flyer are “inaccurate.”

The accusations towards council ignoring “900-plus residents,” is false as council heard this group speak “extensively” at the last three meetings, added Pride officials.

As for the drag story hour, “Not a single parent in attendance with their child had a complaint about this family friendly story time … if people did not want to go or bring their children, they didn’t have to,” they stated.  

The Concerned Citizens of Minto, whose contact information is included on the bottom of the flyer, did not respond to a request for comments.