Concerned Canadians for Canadian Values planned to hold what they called a free speech rally opposing the federal government's M-103 anti-Islamophobia motion, in a public park in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Then just days before the rally, their permit was denied by city manager Robert Nicolay.
Nicolay sent the group's organizer, Michael Carriere, an email on August 24 that read in part:
In light of recent conflicts around similar gatherings across Canada and in the US, it is not unreasonable to foresee that the proposed August 26th event may increase risk for participants, other users of the park and the general public. In order to eliminate this particular risk the city is choosing not to approve the park use permit…
The city manager and, by extension, the City of Grande Prairie, were holding this group of innocent people responsible for the actions of completely unrelated people in other cities and even other countries.
We filed a Freedom of Information request with the City of Grande Prairie to find out what really happened.
We found out the city manager, after originally approving the rally, personally intervened to put a stop to it on the very same day, just two hours later.
In other words, the very censorship that Concerned Canadians for Canadian Values wanted to protest against was happening to them behind the scenes. The government was censoring their free speech in a public place, and using “safety concerns” to do it.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly, and it’s the government's job to protect this right for all.
If this violation of a fundamental human right can happen in a place as conservative as Grande Prairie, Alberta, it can happen anywhere.