Amid pressure from community members and city councillors, on Friday, the City of Peterborough, Ont., denied a permit for a white nationalist rally that was supposed to take place on Saturday.
The city’s chief administrative officer, Allan Seabrooke, told The CJN that “the request to the City of Peterborough by an applicant for a permit for the use of Confederation Park on Sept. 30 for an anti-Trudeau rally will not be issued as the applicant did not provide the required documentation to the city within the required time frame.”
When news first broke that an anti-immigration, anti-Trudeau rally organized by Canadian Nationalist Front chairman Kevin Goudreau – who can be found on the Internet sporting swastika tattoos and giving the Nazi salute – was scheduled to take place, members of the community responded by organizing a number of solidarity events planned to take place over the weekend.
Chalk Out Hate invites participants to write positive, welcoming messages in chalk on city streets and sidewalks. Turn Out and Dance Out will feature food, music, dancing and art, and will feature speakers including Desmond Cole of Black Lives Matter Toronto. And the Chill Out event will offer another opportunity for the community to come together in solidarity.
“We come together to respond to racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism with a resistance that is grounded in love, justice, hope, care and creativity,” read a “statement of unity” that was signed by hundreds of individuals, community organizations and businesses. “White supremacism and neo-Nazism must not be paraded un-challenged on our streets. As we commit to resisting such a display, we also commit to the long-term work of unlearning and dismantling white supremacy and racism within ourselves, our relationships, our communities, our governments and our world.”
Peterborough Councillor Diane Therrien argued that the city should not grant the group permission to hold the rally in Confederation Square, which is public property.
“Staff’s position is that it’s a peaceful protest – but he (Goudreau) is not a peaceful person,” Therrien told local media.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) said in a statement that it reached out to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett and the Peterborough police chief to urge them to revoke the permit.
“There is nothing peaceful about white nationalists marching in public spewing messages of hate and intolerance,” said FSWC president and CEO Avi Benlolo.
Beth Israel Synagogue Cantor Leon Litvack wrote an open letter to city councillors and media on behalf of his congregation, many of whom would not be able to participate in the solidarity events because they coincide with Yom Kippur.
In it, he said that “we object strongly to the staging of this rally, and we protest with every fibre of our beings to any expressions of rabid antipathy towards our fellow human beings, however such ‘rights to protest’ might be camouflaged.”
Judy Zelikovitz, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ vice-president of university and local partner services, said that CIJA ensured that Beth Israel and the Jewish community in Peterborough would be prepared if the rally went ahead as planned.
“They are taking appropriate measures to ensure the security of the local synagogue and have been in direct communication with law enforcement and government officials,” she said. “We have offered our support to the Peterborough Jewish community, including the assistance of our security team, as part of CIJA’s national community security program, and will continue closely monitoring the situation.”