T.O. extends support for troops

ZEN RURYK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

TORONTO (Sun Media) - Barraged by criticism, Mayor David Miller flip-flopped yesterday, leading a charge to allow city fire trucks and ambulances to indefinitely sport ribbon decals that signify support for Canadian troops.

Miller and 38 councillors voted unanimously at a council meeting yesterday to extend the ribbon campaign beyond September when it was to draw to a close.

In addition, Toronto's municipal politicians determined the police force should have the option of joining the campaign.

'IMPORTANT'

"I think that it's important, personally, that Canadians in every corner of this country support the men and women of the armed forces. the City of Toronto has always done that," said Miller, whose uncle served in the British and Canadian navies.

The Toronto Sun sparked a hailstorm of controversy when columnist Joe Warmington put the spotlight on plans to end the campaign.

Miller on Tuesday said that no order had been issued to remove the decals from fire trucks and ambulances yet the campaign was only to go on for one year. He expressed support for Canadian troops at the time, but refused to intervene to extend the campaign beyond September,

Miller yesterday had a change of heart and urged city council to keep the ribbons on 170 fire trucks, 147 ambulances and emergency response cars and SUVs.

"I reflected on the issue," said Miller, who stressed the importance of having the city clearly state its position.

He said the tragic deaths of the three Canadian soldiers who were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan yesterday were the biggest factor that led to his decision to push for the extension of the campaign.

In explaining his actions, Miller said that people seemed to believe that the city was not supporting Canadian troops. "That was never the intention. I think it's more important to make that statement than worry about the timing of the campaign," Miller said.

Six councillors were not present for the vote, including Pam McConnell, who said her father died in World War II and that her nephew was hurt in Afghanistan.

McConnell stressed she supports Canada's troops, but not the war in Afghanistan.

"In order to support what I think is important to our troops -- in order to show my support for both my father, my nephew and other people who are being hurt, maimed and who have died in wars -- I left the chamber," she said. "I felt it was the most important thing that I could do and I was not going to vote against my conscience or my belief."

Spectator Lorne Hood, 67, who served in the army reserves for more than 20 years, said it would have been an insult if council members failed to approve the extension of the campaign .


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