Statement from NDP MPs Libby Davies and Bill Siksay regarding threats from the “Westboro Baptist Church” hate-group

The US-based hate group calling itself Westboro Baptist Church is again threatening to send members across the Canadian border to harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation, this time at an event in East Vancouver on November 28, 2008.

Westboro Baptist, under its so-called “Minister” Fred Phelps, is a viciously homophobic hate group known for disseminating hate speech, inciting violence, and for contemptible acts such as disrupting funerals and harassing mourners.

Public statements on the group’s website indicate they intend to travel to Vancouver later this month, with the expressed purpose of inciting hatred and harassing people on the basis of their sexual orientation. This would constitute a premeditated violation of section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which states that it is an offense to willfully promote hatred against any identifiable group or communicate statements in any public place that incite hatred against any identifiable group, especially where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.

Many of our constituents and other concerned Canadians have contacted our offices and community media outlets to express their anger that this hate group plans to enter our country to violate Canadian laws. This is not the first time Phelps’ organization has threatened to enter our country to preach hatred, and on previous occasions communities across Canada have stood firm against these threats. And we will do so again. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities and the people of Vancouver will not be intimidated by these bigots.

On previous occasions, the government has alerted Canada Border Services Agency of the group’s plans, and instructed CBSA personnel to ensure Canadian law is upheld. Today, we are sending a
the current Minister of Public Safety urging him to follow this well-established precedent.

Hatred, bigotry and harassment are not welcome in our communities.

Libby Davies
MP Vancouver East
Deputy Leader of the NDP

Bill Siksay
MP Burnaby-Douglas
NDP Critic for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues