Skip to main content

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson condemned a rally planned for City Hall this weekend by a collection of far-right groups.

Darryl Dyck/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver's mayor says there is little the city can do to prevent a rally planned by far-right groups, but he hopes residents confront racist rhetoric peacefully after recent turmoil in the United States.

In the wake of an anti-racist protester dying in Charlottesville last Saturday, Mayor Gregor Robertson condemned a rally planned for City Hall this weekend by a collection of small groups opposed to Islam, the federal government's immigration policies and what they call the loss of Canada's "European heritage."

"Obviously, Vancouver has a troubled history with racism and discrimination," Mr. Robertson told reporters Tuesday. "Zero tolerance of racism and hatred and discrimination is where Vancouver is at."

Story continues below advertisement

Balkissoon: Dear white nationalists: It's not unfair, this is how equality works

Local authorities cannot stop the event, he said, but police and City Hall security will make the space as safe as possible for the rally organizers as well as the protesters aiming to disrupt the demonstration.

"Canada is a free country and people have the right to demonstrate and protest," he said. "They have a right to demonstrate, but hatred and racism have no place in this city and I expect people to confront that and make sure there's a peaceful and direct pushback on racism and hatred."

Those behind Saturday's rally and counterprotest both say a turnout of 100 people on each side would be a success.

One of the main organizers of the rally, the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI), held a similar rally in Calgary in June, which saw a handful of its members shouted down by anti-fascist protesters outside City Hall as more than two dozen police officers separated the two sides.

Amid a rise in Islamophobia in recent years, similar rallies have occurred across Canada, though not with the violence or Nazi symbols seen at American events.

Isabelle Rowe-Codner, co-founder of the Stand Up to Racism Metro Vancouver, said her ad hoc group has been monitoring various organizations in the region for a while and decided to organize a peaceful protest Saturday to voice its opposition.

Story continues below advertisement

"It does really shock me to see how out there their organizers can be online," Ms. Rowe-Codner said. "A lot of them say things that are very outspoken, hateful vitriol and we're definitely dealing with people who are passionate about being hateful members of our community.

"So it doesn't surprise me how open they are toward violence."

Joey Deluca, a Calgary man speaking at Saturday's Vancouver rally, said his group, the WCAI, does not advocate violence, and the logo for the event – a prone anti-fascist protester being punched by another man – is a tongue-in-cheek nod to his political opponents, who he said use similar imagery.

Mr. Deluca says his group is not white supremacist, though fellow members reacted to the protests in Charlottesville over the weekend by posting to their Facebook accounts about the need to save "European heritage" and referencing popular white-supremacist slogans.

Mr. Deluca said his group wants Canada to restrict immigration and stop asylum seekers from walking over its border with the United States.

He said the "fake news" media have hidden the many crimes perpetrated by Syrian refugees, but could not provide any evidence of this except for an incident at the West Edmonton Mall last February.

Story continues below advertisement

President Donald Trump has come under strong criticism for not calling out white supremacists when racist violence flared in Charlottesville, Va. on the weekend. In an initial statement Saturday, his rhetoric was seen as soft on racists, to calling out groups like the KKK Monday, and then on Tuesday suggesting that both sides were the triggers of violence.
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.