Open Letter Regarding “Freedom Rally” this Weekend

October 15, 2020

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 WilsonUBCIC Secretary-Treasurer
UBCIC executiveUBCIC
BC Government and Service Employees UnionPublic Service Alliance of Canada 
BC Regional Council
Canadian Union of Public EmployeesMetro Vancouver District Council
Canadian Union of Public EmployeesLocal 1004
MoveUPOneCity 
Green Party of Vancouver 
Sierra Club BC 
Burnaby Pride 
Teaching Support Staff UnionSolidarity and Social Justice Committee
Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods 
Chronically Queer 
Longhouse Council of Native Ministry Church 
David SuzukiEnvironmentalist/broadcaster
Angela GirardCity of North Vancouver, City Councilor
Christine BoyleVancouver City Councillor
Jean SwansonVancouver City Councillor
John IrwinVancouver Park Board Commissioner
Pete FryVancouver City Councillor
Stuart MackinnonVancouver Park Board Commissioner
Janet FraserVancouver School Board Trustee
Vancouver Pride Society 
C. Blake Gilks MD FRCPCSadie Kuehn Community Leader
Anti-Racist Canada (ARC Collective) 
Vancouver Peace Council 
Ellen WoodsworthQuirke the Queer Writing Collective
Mel LehanCommunity Builder
SustainabiliteensYouth climate justice group
UBC Students Against Bigotry 
Alan DuttonCAERS
Ananda Lee TanJust Transition Alliance
West Coast Coalition Against Racism 
Andrew Larigakis350.org – Vancouver
Hannah KawasCanada Palestine Association – chair
Independent Jewish Voices 
Women Transforming Cities 
Bill ReesProfessor Emeritus, UBC School of Applied Science
Carl RosenbergIndependent Jewish Voices
Dr. William BruneauPast-president CAUT
John CashoreFormer BC NDP Minister of Labour
Wendy PedersenCarnegie Community Action Project
Jeanie KaminsArtist
Jef KeighleyRetired Unifor staff
Joanne ColbanConcerned resident
Heather ChoConcerned resident
Michael LebowitzProfessor emeritus, SFU Economics Department
Peter ThomsonRetired teacher
Sandra BruneauPast board member – BCCLA
Sid Shniad 
Itrath SyedSFU Graduate Student
Martha Roth 
Marty Roth 
Neil Naiman 
Gail Davidson 
J. DeutschScience for Peace
Robert AgesCommunity Organizer
Anna BjarnasonConcerned resident
Susan SprattUnifor retiree
Bob HackettContributing columnist, National Observer
Mark Leier Professor, History Department, SFU
Paul BjarnasonRetired COPE Union Representative
Penny Goldsmith 
Elsie Dean 
Steve R. Duncan 
Dr. Sheila DelanyEmerita, SFU
Valerie RaoulUBC Professor Emerita
Yvon RaoulRetired VSB teacher
Christine ArcandWILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom) Nanaimo
Merrill James O’DonnellConcerned resident, New Westminster
Trish Lim-O’DonnellConcerned resident, New Westminster
Peter MarcusPoet
Sandy BauerConcerned resident
Jane BoueyFormer Vancouver School Board Trustee
Vanneau NeeshamRetired Teacher
Jeannie MagentaConcerned citizen
Anne Duke Concerned citizen 
Dr. Judy Whitehead 
Tom Nesbit 
Janet PattersonConcerned resident
Don CraneConcerned resident
Sarah O’LearyLawyer, Harrison O’Leary
Rolf HarrisonLawyer, Harrison O’Leary
Deb ThomasRetired librarian
Penny Goldsmith 
Susan StoutRetired airline worker
Carol CrossRetired social worker
Jim MacFarlanPast President, BC Teachers’ Federation, Former Vancouver School Board Trustee
Bob RatnerProfessor Emeritus, Sociology, UBC
Shauna ButterwickProfessor Emeritus, UBC
Donald Fisher 
Tim LouisFormer Vancouver City Councillor
Wendy Frost 
Dan Pratt 
Susan B. BoydProfessor Emerita Susan Boyd, F.R.S.C., UBC
Norman Epstein 
Anne RobertsFormer Vancouver City Councillor
Lisa BarrettFormer Mayor, Bowen Island
Bill EnglesonRetired Social Worker
Victor Brodeur Concerned resident
Tony BelcherRetired public service employee
Sharon GregsonCoalition of Child Care Advocates of BC
Robert HornseyOwner Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts
John BailRetired National Director, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Betty B. Blay Ackah 
Susan Martin 
Jane PowerPost Graduate, Simon Fraser University
Rev. Laurel DykstraSalal + Cedar Watershed Discipleship Community

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