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Anti-immigrant rally in Peterborough sparks calls for inclusion and tolerance

By Cody Starr [1]

BELLEVILLE – An anti-immigration rally being held in Peterborough’s Confederation Park Saturday has been met with public outcry.

The rally Saturday has sparked a counter-rally on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. called Chalk Out Hate [2]. The event will take place at Peterborough Square on George Street in the downtown core. Those who attend will be using chalk to write messages of welcome, love and peace.

The Chalk Out Hate event is part of what is being called Solidarity Weekend in Peterborough. The weekend is to allow Peterborough residents to “acknowledge, address and respond to growing neo-Nazi, white-supremacist and anti-immigration ideologies and movements as they take form in the community that we share,” according to a Statement of Unity [3] released by organizers. The statement condemns racism and intolerance in Peterborough and calls on residents to combat them with love, justice, hope, care and creativity.

On Thursday afternoon, the Peterborough Police said they “support the values reflected in the Unity Statement” and are adding their name “to the the list of organizations and individuals that support diversity, inclusion and peace for everyone.”

The police statement quotes Police Chief Murray Rodd saying: “We celebrate the many creative events taking place across the city this weekend that uphold the values of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion. We do not endorse or support confrontation.”

The anti-immigration rally is being organized by Kevin Goudreau, chair of the far-right Canadian Nationalist Front [4]. On its website, the group says its goals are to “see proper immigration reforms,” to stop “third world immigrants” from coming to Canada, and  “to see the return to Canada’s original predominantly white-European and native aboriginal ethnic makeup.”

This isn’t the first time Goudreau has held a controversial rally in Peterborough. In March, he and other Nationalist Front members held what was billed as a “White Pride” rally [5] in the city’s downtown. News reports at the time said there were only a handful of participants, and there were many complaints about the event on social media.

The permit for Saturday’s rally, which is scheduled to run from 2 to 5 p.m., was granted by the Peterborough city clerk’s office on Monday, according to Henry Clarke, a member of Peterborough city council.

The decision to grant the permit was out of the councillors’ hands, Clarke said.

“If I had a choice, I wouldn’t allow it,” he told QNet News in an interview Wednesday. But despite personal feelings he and others may have about such events, he said, demonstrators must be allowed to gather peacefully, since Canada permits freedom of speech.