Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre and Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion issue joint statement in response to scheduled People’s Party of Canada rally in Hamilton
HAMILTON – The upcoming People’s Party of Canada (PPC) rally provides an opportunity for anti-vaccine, far-right and white nationalist groups to publicly organize in Hamilton during the federal election, according to community organizations.
Maxine Bernier and the Peoples Party of Canada are using the pandemic as an opportunity to further their far-right political agenda says Lyndon George, Executive Director of Hamilton’s Anti-Racism Resource Centre (HARCC). “During the 4th wave of Covid when our local hospitals are seeing an increase in Covid patients, experiencing nursing shortages, surgeries have been cancelled and doctors are burnt out, we’ve seen PPCsupporters flouting public health guidelines and opting not to comply with city by-laws that require a permit for use of public parks.”
“There are individuals looking for confrontation — not conversation,” says George. “We will see an increase of individuals coming from outside the city to attend the event. We’ve seen what happens, they come into the city, they sow discord and the Hamilton community has to deal with the aftermath.”
The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion witnessed in 2019 the impact of the PPC’s platform that espoused xenophobic and racist policy and language. Their presence at Mohawk College provided a safe space for alt-right groups, such as Soldiers of Odin, Proud Boys and other groups to express bigotry and violence. While we respect the rights and freedoms of people, time and time again we see some PPC organizers and supporters disregarding public health guidelines, dismissing health experts and promoting dis(mis)information.
Hamilton is behind in vaccination rates in the province, COVID-19 disproportionately affected and continues to affect low-income, racialized, and essential workers in Hamilton many of whom also live downtown. For the PPC to hold an election campaign event that goes against public health guidelines is irresponsible and dangerous to the safety and well-being of Hamilton residents.
We are asking the municipality and Hamilton police service to use the appropriate by-laws and legal tools designed to secure all public spaces from hate rhetoric and protect the health of Hamilton residents.
In advance of Thursday’s PPC event, HCCI and HARRC co-hosted an information session to discuss the impact of alt-right groups on political discourse, public health & democracy; invited guest speaker -Evan Balgord from The Canadian Anti-Hate Network.