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Calgary Passes ‘Inclusive’ Bylaw Banning Protests Near Libraries, Rec Centres After Objections to Drag Queen Story Hour

Calgary’s city council has voted 10–5 in favour of creating a bylaw to ban protests within 100 metres of a public swimming pool, recreation centre, or library. The council also voted 11–4 in favour of changing a bylaw about street harassment to include the word “intimidation” on March 14 after a few hours of debate.

The “Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw” bans “specified protests” inside and within 100 metres of city libraries and recreation centres, following a number of protests against transgender individuals in pool change rooms and drag queen story hour for children in public libraries.

Individuals are now prohibited under municipal bylaws from protesting inside or within 100 metres of any “publicly accessible property” listed in the bylaw as a library or recreation facility, on threat of a fine up to $10,000, jail time, or both, if convicted.

Councillors Sean Chu, Dan McLean, Jennifer Wyness, Sonya Sharp, and Andre Chabot all voted against the bylaw.

Sharp said she voted against the bylaw as she had unanswered questions, but added parents had the choice to take their children to drag queen events at libraries.

Other councillors questioned the rapid pace at which the bylaw was passed.

Wyness told reporters she voted against the bylaw when “legal” and city administration “couldn’t answer a single question.”

“I’m trying to govern here. I should be able to get my questions answered before I’m passing a first-of-its-kind-in-Canada law.”

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek posted on Twitter last month that she had pushed for a way to “address protests rooted in hatred.”

“We have performers being targeted for weeks & now vitriol in front of children at the library. These are not peaceful protests. This is hate. The kind of hate we rallied against for so long,” said the mayor.

On Feb. 10, Gondek posted a video clip of a Jan. 17 city council meeting on Twitter, where she stated, “Unfortunately, some members of our population thought it would be a good idea to protest this event, which is, I’m just going to use my opinion, a horrible thing to do,” said the mayor.

The bylaws are to be reviewed in one month by city council.


Legal experts who spoke to The Epoch Times say the proposed bylaw is unconstitutional and unnecessary, as laws already exist to deal with threats of violence and genuine hate speech.

Natalie Johnson, a constitutional lawyer with Alberta law firm Grey Wowk Spencer, told The Epoch Times that the bylaw “has the potential to regulate activity that the Mayor or City Council do not agree with,” and infringes on the fundamental Charter rights and freedoms of expression, religion, and association.

“The wording is overly broad and ripe for misuse: it prohibits ‘objection or disapproval towards an idea or action,’” she said.

Alberta lawyer James Kitchen told The Epoch Times that when it comes to protesting, especially in libraries, the charter always intended “maximum constitutional protection.”

“A library’s purpose is expression. This is an open public facility,” he said. He said the bylaw “criminalizes actual peaceful behaviour” by giving “law enforcement or government the power to break up a protest or assembly the government doesn’t like.”

Kitchen said the provincial government could overrule the City of Calgary by passing provincial statutes that further protect and clarify “the right of people to peacefully protest, to peacefully express themselves on library property.”

A spokesperson for Alberta’s Justice Minister Tyler Shandro did not respond to requests for comment.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

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