Letter to Public Safety Minister re: threats from Westboro Baptist Church

November 14, 2008

Hon. Peter Van Loan
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Van Loan,

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Minister of Public Safety.

It has come to our attention that a US-based hate group calling itself Westboro Baptist Church is once again threatening to send members across our border to harass people at an event-this time in East Vancouver on November 28, 2008.

As the government has done in the past, we strongly urge you to alert Canada Border Services Agency of the group’s plans, and instruct CBSA personnel to ensure Canadian law is upheld. We urge you to follow this well established precedent.

As we are sure you know, Westboro Baptist Church, 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 from Westboro Baptist indicate the group is planning to send associates to Canada 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 wilfully 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 local media outlets to demand that CBSA do everything in its power to prevent associates of this hate group from entering our country to violate Canadian laws.

We look forward to your reply and to immediate action on this threat to the safety and security of Canadian citizens.

Libby Davies
MP Vancouver East
Deputy Leader of the NDP

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