Premier John Horgan and MP Jenny Kwan condemn bigotry before Vancouver antiracism rally

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      An upcoming rally by an Islamophobic group and a political party wanting curbs on immigration has elicited written statements from Premier John Horgan and Vancouver East NDP MP Jenny Kwan.

      Kwan is her party's critic for immigration and multiculturalism.

      The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday (August 19) outside Vancouver City Hall. 

      In the meantime, antiracists are planning their own event at the same location

      It's planned for earlier in the day at 12:45 p.m. and will continue all afternoon.

      John Horgan's statement:

      "Hate has no place in our province. We reject all forms of racism, discrimination, intolerance and bigotry.

      “Recent events and images from Charlottesville, Virginia were horrifying, and hateful rhetoric is on the rise worldwide. While many British Columbians want to believe such brazen acts of hatred could not happen here, the reality is that hate groups also organize and operate in Canada.

      “When these forces rise up, we must stand united and denounce them in the strongest possible terms. We reject the values and beliefs of those groups which participate in, and advocate for, hate speech. They have no place in a tolerant and inclusive society.

      “When we are confronted by hate, we all have a responsibility to take action. We will continue to stand up for the values shared by the vast majority of British Columbians: equality, inclusiveness and unity.

      “To those who are participating in anti-racism counter-events in Vancouver and across the province, we support you and wish you a safe and peaceful demonstration.”

      Jenny Kwan's statement:

      "We have all felt the rising tide. Reading the news coming out of the United States, it can feel as if the promotion of hatred has become a normal part of our lives. The President on our southern border has been shamelessly brazen in both his discriminatory rhetoric and policies, creating an atmosphere where, more and more, the spread of racism and hate is viewed as acceptable.

      "Sadly, these attitudes have real consequences.  In Canada, we have seen acts of terrorism like the horrific attack on the Quebec City Mosque and the series of bomb threats at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver.

      "In this context, the fight against racism and discrimination is re-emerging as one of the defining struggles of our generation. It is critical that each and every one of us rise up and take a firm stand against the forces that represent racism, white supremacy and fascism—whether it is being propagated by an individual or an organization. This has no place in our public dialogue and no place in our streets.

      "This is issue is not just theoretical for me as I have experienced racism.  As a child growing up in Vancouver, as a visible minority entering city hall in the '90s and as a woman of colour in the B.C. legislature and as MP for Vancouver East, racism came to me in the form of yelled insults and written threats but also as subtle incidents, like comments with the undertone of discrimination. The point is always the same—that I did not belong.

      "In March of this year, I attended a rally on the International Day Against Racial Discrimination, which was attacked by a white supremacist organization. Their intention was to intimidate the people who had assembled and to disrupt the discussions that we would have. They used smoke bombs in an attempt to break up the rally. They failed.

      "We will not be intimidated, and we will not be silent.

      "I salute each and every one of you at the rally, but I would like to especially thank the organizers—a coalition who could not to be silent and chose to be proactive in countering the promotion of hate.

      "Unfortunately I cannot be there with you at this important rally as I am out of the country, but you can rest assured that it is my strongest view that it is the duty of all elected representatives to fight against the cruel and small-minded few who wish to force us to retreat on gay rights, on women’s rights, on the rights of Indigenous communities, on the rights of minority religious groups and on the rights of people of colour. As the representative for Vancouver East, one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Canada, and as the NDP spokesperson for Multiculturalism, I have a special duty not only to defend diversity, but to champion it.

      "Independent of that, it is also my core belief that we should advocate for a Canada that guarantees that people can live their lives without fear, without violence and without the systemic prejudices that some face every day.

      "My team will be there, marching in my place. We, as New Democrats, will always stand against bigotry and hate. While they oppose us with threats of violence and we will reply with courage and strength. While they supply misinformation and fake news, we will reply with facts and logic. While they use fear and intimidation, we will respond with love, hope and optimism.

      "Thank you for your engagement, and for ensuring that your representatives are engaged as well, in this crucial struggle."