Original Published on Jul 22, 2022 at 07:05

By Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WINGHAM – Reeve Bernie Bailey spoke to council on Monday regarding a downtown business that has chosen to display flags and other items that use offensive language after receiving several complaints from residents.

“I want to take a moment to speak to some flags and sign issues on the main street of Wingham,” Bailey said. “At the last Remembrance Day, I spoke on behalf of all of North Huron on our deep gratitude to the fallen that have given the freedoms that we have in Canada. As I started speaking, I looked up to the crowd, and just above them, over their heads, the Canadian flag was flying upside down in front of Buck & Jo’s restaurant. Obviously, the owner, Steve Hill, has no moral compass.

“It seems to have progressed through the year, and he is now boldly showing the full “F” word in different places in his main street windows, the flags outside and the t-shirts, on both of his sites and the websites.”

Bailey went on to talk about how he stopped at the business to take video footage of the offensive display to provide the material to Huron County council and the police to see if there is anything that North Huron council could do to put a stop to this type of behaviour.

The reeve was responding to a recent blog post by the owner of the restaurant that stated he (Bailey) was there to show his support for the displays, calling Hill a liar and reiterating that he does not agree with the stance taken by the business nor does he want the offensive language displayed for all to see, especially the children.

Deputy Reeve Trevor Seip suggested those who disagree with the way this council is run, or are against certain political parties who are currently in power, to put their name forward in the upcoming election. 

“You have your opinion, you have that right,” said Seip, speaking about free speech, “but Oct. 24 is coming. If you don’t like what you’re seeing on the TV or the computer, feel free to put your name in the ring.”

A citizen from Wingham sent an email to Bailey on July 10 that said, “Just out for a short drive and see that Steve Hill now has a t-shirt sitting in his window, quite visible, with the phrase ‘Give me free speech or F*** OFF.’ This, along with his new flags now showing the middle finger salute instead of the maple leaf in the F*** Trudeau flags are, in my opinion, over the line.

“Free speech is one thing, but offensive speech is another. I can’t believe that blatant profanity is considered free speech when everyone, including children, can view it… these displays along our main business street are a total embarrassment to the community.”

Bailey told the Wingham Advance Times in an interview following the July 18 council meeting that there is absolutely nothing that council can do to put a stop to this, but he is not going to stop trying.

This item reprinted with permission from Advance Times, Wingham, Ontario