A private meeting at the Chilliwack Curling Club Monday night hosted by a controversial anti-LGBTQ organization drew criticism from advocates for inclusiveness.
But while Action4Canada has been banned from Mission school board meetings, the Chilliwack Curling Club general manager was unapologetic when asked about renting space to the group that promotes anti-LGBTQ messages as well as anti-Indigenous, anti-Islam, anti-choice, as well as anti-science propaganda including climate change and COVID denialism.
Mission public schools superintendent Angus Wilson met with the group recently and said the group continued to share misinformation. Wilson said someone from Action4Canada tried to connect conspiracy theories about the United Nations to Indigenous people.
Action4Canada was founded by Tanya Gaw, and bills itself as a grassroots movement to unite Canadians “in opposition to the destructive policies tearing at the fabric of this nation” with a focus on “faith, family and freedom.”
Gaw recently complained to the Chilliwack RCMP that there was child pornography in local schools, an allegation that is not true, something police quickly confirmed.
When contacted by The Progress, curling club general manager Bruce Renwick said it was a private meeting, and he was unconcerned by the group’s messaging.
“Is the group listed as a hate group by the federal government?” he asked three times when asked about renting to Action4Canada in a phone call Monday before the meeting.
When told that the group is not listed as a hate group, Renwick was then told about the material spread by Action4Canada.
When Renwick was asked if all it takes to be able to rent space at the municipally owned facility is not being registered as a hate group is, he hung up.
A Langley LGBTQ advocate said he asked Renwick if the curling club’s policy means a neo-Nazi group could rent space at the facility. He said Renwick responded that he would “cross that bridge when he came to it.”
Another LGBTQ advocate pointed to a website where the 9th End Cafe at the Chilliwack Curling Club was once listed by an anti-vaccination group on a list of “Businesses that don’t discriminate” during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Mayor Ken Popove was asked Monday to comment on allowing Action4Canada to rent space at the curling club. In a statement attributed to Popove, a communications co-ordinator said via email that the city cannot discriminate between groups that want to rent city-owned facilities on the basis of their views because of the Charter.
“Facility rental is not an endorsement of a group’s message,” the statement said. “As per the Charter, we would not rent facility space to a group convicted of a hate crime. Our local RCMP attend and investigate concerns about hate crimes, and anyone with concerns should contact the RCMP directly. As the city owns the curling and community centre, the curling club who operate the building would follow these rules.”