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U of T students urge Facebook to remove 'white supremacist' page
Published Tuesday, August 15, 2017 12:36PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, August 15, 2017 6:52PM EDT
Students at the University of Toronto are upset after a group calling itself the Canadian Nationalist Party said they wanted to hold a white supremacist rally on campus.
On Aug. 9, the group posted on Facebook about a rally set to be held on campus in September to “discuss the nationalist movement in Canada and the future of our country.” U of T has asked Facebook to remove the page, which currently has more than 1,000 likes.
“What I felt is horrible because I see how much they are emboldened,” one student told CTV News Toronto on Tuesday.
Other students said they fear the rally could carry the same white nationalist views that became a flashpoint in Virginia over the weekend. On Saturday, an anti-fascist protester was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia and dozens more were injured when a self-professed Nazi sympathizer allegedly drove a vehicle into a marching crowd.
The leader of the Canadian Nationalist Party, Travis Patron, wouldn’t speak to CTV News Toronto on camera, but said over the phone that the rally isn’t connected to the Charlottesville attack.
Patron also said that the Canadian Nationalist Party isn’t a white nationalist party, however, he does say the group is against same-sex marriage and transgender people in civil service. He said the group has an anti-immigration stance and believes the “rights of European Canadians are being suppressed.”
He told CP24 on Tuesday afternoon that the party has about 200 members in Toronto. He also said the group is not “hateful” but they have to be diligent “against the Islamification of this country."
The University of Toronto says the party hasn’t requested to use any space and a rally is not being held on campus grounds.
“Our immediate concern is around the safety of our students,” said student union president Mathias Memmel. “When it comes to these sort of events, the rise of white nationalism and white supremacy, that we’re seeing south of the border – our position is that Canada is not immune to that. We’re seeing that more and more frequently.
University of Toronto media relations director Althea Blackburn-Evans said in order to use the campus for a rally, the group would have to book space in advance “or they will be asked to leave.”
She said if students are concerned about safety, the university’s campus security would step in and work closely with Toronto police.
Members of the Canadian Nationalist Party said they plan to reach out to the university to discuss holding the rally there.