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'Hate-sponsored rallies' should be prohibited in Toronto, councillor says
Published Tuesday, November 7, 2017 2:12PM EST
One city councillor wants to know what the city can do to prohibit "hate-sponsored rallies" from taking place in Toronto.
In an administrative inquiry at a council meeting that starts today, Ward 10 Coun. James Pasternak is asking the deputy city manager to look into what can be done to prohibit white supremacist or neo-Nazi rallies and other demonstrations that incite hatred and violence on City or provincial property.
“Do the Toronto Police Service or City of Toronto have ability and what resources could they utilize to prohibit a rally that is inciting hatred and violence?” Pasternak’s submission read.
The question comes a little more than two weeks after far-right demonstrators squared off with counter-protesters at Nathan Phillips Square.
Speaking to CP24 on Tuesday, Pasternak said he understands free speech and the right to gather are “sacred” rights.
“We also have to respect the rights of targeted groups and respect their right to freedom and liberty,” he said.
“We wanted to understand what tools and powers we have to stop the hate rallies that are going on across the United States and starting to emerge in this city.”
Pasternak said his constituents are “offended” and “disturbed” by the hate rallies taking place in the United States and Canada.
“We have had rallies in which hate has been spewed and we have an obligation to protect the diversity of our city and to make sure that these groups can’t grow,” he said.
“The Supreme Court has set limits. The Criminal Code sets limits and we want the city to have more authority to set limits.”
Pasternak said the while the city already has a “very robust” anti-discrimination policy, which people must sign before they can hold an event on city property, city officials should be able to do more on the enforcement front.
“We think we should have the power to issue trespass orders, to fine for extra police services, maybe freeze bank accounts. We need those powers to make sure that hate can’t grow within our society.”
Pasternak’s inquiry has not yet been debated at city council but will go before executive committee for further discussion.