At least three city councillors will be voting to keep “Merry Christmas,” on municipal buses.
In a complaint filed to the city, Ashu M. G. Solo, a vocal Saskatoon atheist said he feels the messages are discriminatory. As a result, Saskatoon’s executive committee will be reviewing the messages and then pass their recommendation to City Council.
Eric Olauson, councillor for Ward 8 said he’d be voting to keep the message.
“I think the messages are good and I think they need to stay there,” said Olauson. “They convey the feelings that the citizens are trying to convey to other citizens.”
Olauson explained he feels the message is simply a festive greeting.
“Merry Christmas is how I wish people around me in Saskatoon—regardless of faith or religion—a happy season,” said Olauson.
“Likewise, if I run into somebody from another religion or faith, if they say happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa or happy Eid, that’s how I take it as well.”
Zach Jeffries, councillor for Ward 10 said although Christmas is rooted in religion, he feels it’s inherited a modern meaning.
“When I look at the issue, I look at all the folks who celebrate Christmas as something that’s just part of our culture and in a way that it’s celebrated—not necessarily as religious holiday—but as a secular holiday with religious roots,” said Jeffries.
“The message should be taken in the spirit in which it was intended and it was definitely intended in one of peace and good will.”
Councillor for Ward 1, Darren Hill expressed a similar opinion saying he thinks executive committee will vote to keep the messages.
“Christmas means different things to different people and I don’t think you’re going to see a decision from executive council to remove it from the buses,” said Hill.
He continued, “If anything, what you will see is probably a recommendation to administration to establish a policy, as we move forward, that might also enable us to recognize other faith based holidays throughout the course of the year.”