The city of Toronto will allow a far-right rally outside its City Hall on the anniversary of the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, despite concerns expressed by the Jewish community.
Several far-right, anti-immigration and nationalist groups are expected to participate in the event Saturday sponsored by the Calgary-based Worldwide Coalition Against Islam.
“This rally is intended to promote hatred and possibly violence on city property, which is in violation of the city’s own Hate Activity Policy and Procedures,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “We condemn the rally’s organisers and requested that the City prevent such rallies from taking place on public property, both this week and in the future.”
Omo Akintan, acting director of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights for Toronto, said in a statement Wednesday that the city shares B’nai Brith’s concerns but the rally would go on as scheduled.
“The City has a Hate Activity Policy with which users of public spaces are expected to comply. The policy prohibits use of City facilities and spaces for hate activity as defined in the Policy. We will continue to enforce the policy,” she said.
“The City will not tolerate, ignore, or condone illegal discrimination or harassment including any rally that incites hatred and/or violence against groups or persons.”
Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs told the local media that reports indicate the rally will attract only a small gathering.
B’nai Brith said in a statement that it would “closely monitor” the rally. The group also said it had raised its concerns with Canadian law enforcement agencies and those responsible for threats to national security.
“We hope and pray that nothing even close to what happened in Charlottesville last year will be repeated in Toronto,” Mostyn said. “We can’t help but be concerned.”
The white supremacists who organised last year’s march in that Virginia city were denied a permit to reconvene there. However, they have been granted permission to gather in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening at Lafayette Park, near the White House.
Sunday is Aug. 12, the day of the march last year that included outbreaks of violence and culminated in a car-ramming attack on counterprotesters that killed one person and injured at least 20.