LaSalle Doesn't Support Municipal Oath Change

LaSalle council has chosen not to support correspondence for a northern-Ontario town that wants to change the municipal oath of office.

Kingsville received correspondence from Mattice-Val Côté, Ont. earlier this month and voted to support a change to the oath that pledges allegiance to the Crown. The argument being the section of the Municipal Act is "irrelevant to the current political state of affairs" and offensive to Indigenous people who were mistreated by the government.

"I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to my country, Canada and to its three founding nations," is being suggested as a replacement.

Councillor Mike Akpata gave an inspired speech to council Tuesday night in opposition of the change — and his fellow councillors heard him — receiving the correspondence, but not endorsing it.

"If we get our First Nations, Mayor, Deputy Mayor of a municipality that want to change it, that's fine, I want inclusion," he says. "But for veterans who swore that oath, it's unpalatable to change."

The Canadian Armed Forces Veteran and retired police officer has pledged allegiance to the Queen throughout his career.

He understands the Crown did some unforgivable things to First Nations and African Canadians in the past, but he wants the option to continue the current pledge to honour service members who swore that oath beside him. 

"If we can keep the oath for those who wish to use it and not substitute it, Much the same way as in court you can swear on the Bible, the Koran, any holy book or you can affirm, which recognizes the diversity in Canada but also recognizes the past and how we got to where we are," says Akpata.

He says many Canadians have a valid reason to choose an alternate pledge, but the original oath shouldn't be erased from office.

"I made sure that I also brought up some of the things that happened in the past were operant and were wrong. We're not trying to hide our history, we're not trying to deny it happened, but we're here to say that people made mistakes in the name of the Crown and we understand why other groups may not want to pledge allegiance to it," he added.

Ontario already offers Indigenous people an alternate oath of office — it was created in December after Hearst Councillor Gaetan Baillargeon almost lost his seat for refusing to pledge allegiance to the Crown.

Baillargeon argued the pledge was inconsistent with his views regarding the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous people.