On May 2, I was invited by Oak Bay school trustee Ryan Painter to the Victoria, BC suburb of Oak Bay to help the Vancouver Island LGBTQ2+ community, our families, and our friends stand up to a to a campaign to incite discrimination against them and their children organized by Campbell-River based group “Canadian Christian Lobby“, a recently organized anti-LGBT Christian organization with apparent ties to supremacist groups.
The Incitement of hatred and discrimination is a public-safety matter that our provincial and federal governments have to take seriously. Statistics Canada reported a 37% jump in hate-motivated crime in 2016 and another 47% jump in 2017, as reported by Reuters. It is time for us to address the incitement of hatred and discrimination where we can, and it is easy to shut the door to them in municipal and institutional facilities through effective rental policies.
This group organized a multi-city tour with the intention of amplifying their views inciting the refusal of medical services or anti-bullying services to children on the basis of their LGBTQ2+ status, with an obsessive focus on transgender children and youth.
Ruling after ruling have confirmed that Canada’s Charter protections do not extend to inciting hatred or to inciting discrimination on prohibited grounds. The Charter does not offer any freedom to harm others or to deny anyone their right to participate in society free of discrimination.
No matter who they are or what they believe, people who incite discrimination on prohibited grounds or express their intention to do so are inciting people to break the law. If they stray into inciting hatred likely to cause a disturbance doing it, they fall under section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
Municipal councils have been slow to address the growth in hatred in Canada since the Harper government removed section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Today, hate groups are using municipal facilities to organize events and then broadcast them on the internet with total disregard for the harm they cause, and this needs to be managed. I am counting on Canada’s municipalities and governments to apply the law, just like I am counting on our law enforcement organizations to enforce Canadian law as necessary.
In a phone call on May 2, 2019, I urged Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch asking Oak Bay council to enact event rental policies that let the city reserve the right to deny or cancel a booking as follows when it reasonably believes use by any individual or group will be for a purpose that is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt or hatred for any group or person on the basis of prohibited grounds. I was please to learn from him that the city had already initiated the process of reviewing its space rental policies as a result of the May 2, 2019 event.
In April 2019, I presented the same advice to the Board of Trustees of the Vancouver Public Library in response to a similar problem which occured in january 2019 when Meghan Murphy booked a space at the VPL Central Branch, also for the purpose of inciting anti-transgender discrimination.
Click here to read the report on the advice I gave to the Trustees.
Click here for beautiful photos from the Oak Bay protest posted to Facebook.
Nanaimo News Bulletin: Protesters try to make anti-SOGI 123 speaker unwelcome in Nanaimo
CBC: Free Speech or Hate Speech? BC district advised not to pull anti-SOGI talk despite protests
Georgia Straight: LGBT-inclusive activists gear up to protest anti-SOGI transgender speaker Jenn Smith on Vancouver Island
Times Colonist: Protestors disrupt anti-SOGI speaker in Oak Bay
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