Open Letter Regarding “Freedom Rally” this Weekend

The following is an open letter about the "Freedom Rally" and "Freedom Convoy" coming to Vancouver on October 17/18. See below for list of endorsers. 

Open Letter Regarding “Freedom Rally” this Weekend

We, the signatories to this open letter, have observed with mounting concern the growth of the far-right threat in the past months. They have cynically used paranoia and misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic to recruit new adherents and coalesce formerly disparate fringe groups.

It is disturbing that recent public manifestations of this dangerous movement in Vancouver have brought out upwards of 700 people to rally and march where previously only a handful could be spotted hanging around the edges of climate and social justice events.

We are particularly alarmed to find out that an alliance of conspiracy believers, anti-vaxxers, white supremacists and neo-Nazis is planning a major two-day event in Vancouver October 17 and 18 which will include the arrival of a convoy of such extremists coming from Saskatchewan and Alberta.

In other times and places, it might be appropriate to mobilize the community in non-violent opposition to their bigotry and hate. The inspiring turnout of over 4,000 at City Hall following the Charlottesville incidents of summer 2017 show what we are capable of. But we recognize the irony of confronting in-person COVID deniers who oppose and refuse to abide by common sense public health measures. Nevertheless, it is crucial that we not remain silent in the face of the danger this phenomenon creates now and as when we emerge from the ongoing crisis.

We are particularly concerned about the immediate threat this full weekend convergence poses to workers in the service and transit sectors.  We have already seen members of this extremist movement confront workers and passersby around the issue of wearing a protective face mask. These may or may not have been isolated individual events. We are afraid that weekend will see groups of these extremists instigating violence. Such cowards are emboldened when they have large numbers.

We cannot allow our friends, families, and communities to be put in harm’s way by those who would come to our city to spread hatred and ignorance. We call on our public authorities including elected officials and the police to fulfill their responsibility and duty to maintain public safety in the face of this threat. We are stalwart defenders of the rights of assembly and free speech, but we cannot be so naïve as to allow a violent neo-fascist movement to grow and threaten society – including its most vulnerable members - behind the façade of free expression.

Vancouver and District Labour Council

 

New Westminster Labour Council

 

Fraser Valley Labour Council

 

Chief Judy Wilson

UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer

UBCIC executive

UBCIC

BC Government and Service Employees Union

Public Service Alliance of Canada

 


BC Regional Council

Canadian Union of Public Employees

Metro Vancouver District Council

Canadian Union of Public Employees

Local 1004

MoveUP

OneCity

 

Green Party of Vancouver

 

Sierra Club BC

 

Burnaby Pride

 

Teaching Support Staff Union

Solidarity and Social Justice Committee

Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods

 

Chronically Queer

 

Longhouse Council of Native Ministry Church

 

David Suzuki

Environmentalist/broadcaster

Angela Girard

City of North Vancouver, City Councilor

Christine Boyle

Vancouver City Councillor

Jean Swanson

Vancouver City Councillor

John Irwin

Vancouver Park Board Commissioner

Pete Fry

Vancouver City Councillor

Stuart Mackinnon

Vancouver Park Board Commissioner

Janet Fraser

Vancouver School Board Trustee

Vancouver Pride Society

 

C. Blake Gilks MD FRCPC

Sadie Kuehn

 

Community Leader

Anti-Racist Canada (ARC Collective)

 

Vancouver Peace Council

 

Ellen Woodsworth

Quirke the Queer Writing Collective

Mel Lehan

Community Builder

Sustainabiliteens

Youth climate justice group

UBC Students Against Bigotry

 

Alan Dutton

CAERS

Ananda Lee Tan

Just Transition Alliance

West Coast Coalition Against Racism

 

Andrew Larigakis

350.org - Vancouver

Hannah Kawas

Canada Palestine Association - chair

Independent Jewish Voices

 

Women Transforming Cities

 

Bill Rees

Professor Emeritus, UBC School of Applied Science

Carl Rosenberg

Independent Jewish Voices

Dr. William Bruneau

Past-president CAUT

John Cashore

Former BC NDP Minister of Labour

Wendy Pedersen

Carnegie Community Action Project

Jeanie Kamins

Artist

Jef Keighley

Retired Unifor staff

Joanne Colban

Concerned resident

Heather Cho

Concerned resident

Michael Lebowitz

Professor emeritus, SFU Economics Department

Peter Thomson

Retired teacher

Sandra Bruneau

Past board member - BCCLA

Sid Shniad

 

Itrath Syed

SFU Graduate Student

Martha Roth

 

Marty Roth

 

Neil Naiman

 

Gail Davidson

 

J. Deutsch

Science for Peace

Robert Ages

Community Organizer

Anna Bjarnason

Concerned resident

Susan Spratt

Unifor retiree

Bob Hackett

Contributing columnist, National Observer

Mark Leier 

Professor, History Department, SFU

Paul Bjarnason

Retired COPE Union Representative

Penny Goldsmith

 

Elsie Dean

 

Steve R. Duncan

 

Dr. Sheila Delany

Emerita, SFU

Valerie Raoul

UBC Professor Emerita

Yvon Raoul

Retired VSB teacher

Christine Arcand

WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) Nanaimo

Merrill James O’Donnell

Concerned resident, New Westminster

Trish Lim-O’Donnell

Concerned resident, New Westminster

Peter Marcus

Poet

Sandy Bauer

Concerned resident

Jane Bouey

Former Vancouver School Board Trustee

Vanneau Neesham

Retired Teacher

Jeannie Magenta

Concerned citizen

Anne Duke 

Concerned citizen 

Dr. Judy Whitehead

 

Tom Nesbit

 

Janet Patterson

Concerned resident

Don Crane

Concerned resident

Sarah O'Leary

Lawyer, Harrison O’Leary

Rolf Harrison

Lawyer, Harrison O’Leary

Deb Thomas

Retired librarian

Penny Goldsmith

 

Susan Stout

Retired airline worker

Carol Cross

Retired social worker

Jim MacFarlan

Past President, BC Teachers' Federation, Former Vancouver School Board Trustee

Bob Ratner

Professor Emeritus, Sociology, UBC

Shauna Butterwick

Professor Emeritus, UBC

Donald Fisher

 

Tim Louis

Former Vancouver City Councillor

Wendy Frost

 

Dan Pratt

 

Susan B. Boyd

Professor Emerita Susan Boyd, F.R.S.C., UBC

Norman Epstein

 

Anne Roberts

Former Vancouver City Councillor

Lisa Barrett

Former Mayor, Bowen Island

Bill Engleson

Retired Social Worker

Victor Brodeur 

Concerned resident

Tony Belcher

Retired public service employee

Sharon Gregson

Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC

Robert Hornsey

Owner Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts

John Bail

Retired National Director, Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Betty B. Blay Ackah

 

Susan Martin

 

Jane Power

Post Graduate, Simon Fraser University

Rev. Laurel Dykstra

Salal + Cedar Watershed Discipleship Community