It’s not often that a politician finds themself in hot water for trying to save their constituents money, but Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt has found himself in just such exclusive company.
Isitt stirred up a holiday hornet’s nest with his suggestion the City of Victoria look at trimming back on its Christmas decorations.
The city spends about $90,000 on seasonal decorations each year, which includes downtown decorations at Christmas and Chinese New Year. Isitt said a line-by-line review of the city budget led him to question the appropriate level of public funding for decorations. The suggestion went over as well as a Christmas Eve visit by the Grinch.
“Political correctness at it’s (sic) best,” read a Facebook comment by Stephen Fortner that seemed to sum up the mood of the vast majority. “Christmas is a Canadian tradition and keep your hands off of it.”
In an interview with Black Press, Isitt said tax dollars should not go to religious symbols. He said he didn’t have a problem with decorations at Chinese New Year because it relates to a “cultural group rather than a religious act.”
While Isitt’s determination to protect the public purse is commendable, his reasoning couldn’t be more misguided. Victoria spends $200,000 a year on flower baskets every year, and the festive light displays over the holidays are just as welcome a sight to tourists and locals alike. The bill for $90,000 should be considered money well spent.
And some could argue that holiday lights have become more of a cultural symbol than any tribute to Christianity. There are no biblical references to strings of lights or inflatable reindeer, the Christmas tree is actually derived from a pagan ritual and Santa Claus himself pays homage to consumerism, not religion, being a product of the advertising minds behind Coca Cola.
So yes, Ben Isitt, there is a Santa Claus. And Victoria residents are quite prepared to see their hard-earned tax dollars go towards celebrating his pending arrival.