National Post (Latest Edition)

NCA member, protesters scuffle briefly in Halifax

Group’s views on immigratio­n controvers­ial

- Alex Cooke

HALIFAX • Protesters had a minor scuffle with a member of a Calgary-based group with controvers­ial views on immigratio­n Friday evening during a gathering the group held in a downtown Halifax park after it was refused three indoor venues.

The National Citizens Alliance had arranged to meet in Victoria Park, after being told they were no longer allowed to host a town hall at a Royal Canadian Legion in Halifax.

Three or four members of the alliance gathered near the park, while more than two dozen protesters loudly chanted their opposition to the group’s views.

Reporters watched as several members of the alliance retreated across the street toward the entrance area of the Lord Nelson Hotel, where protesters followed them.

One protester argued with an alliance member while another wrestled a sign out of his hands and tore it to pieces.

Flanked by police, the two sides engaged in a shouting match before the alliance members walked away to an unknown location.

“We definitely showed them that Halifax won’t stand for xenophobia and Islamophob­ia,” said activist Jessica Dueling after the men left. “We showed them that we stand together as a community today, that we stand with all our neighbours.”

The National Citizens Alliance had been set to host its meeting at a legion branch in Halifax’s north end Friday evening, but the event was cancelled by the legion on Thursday.

“The original booking was made by an individual for a private function. When RCL Branch 27 learned that the booking was intended as a town-hall meeting for the National Citizens Alliance, the booking was cancelled,” Valerie Mitchell-Veinotte, executive-director of Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command, told Global News.

The alliance promotes the idea of “integratio­n” of new arrivals into what it calls the “basic cultural norms of Canada,” as well as a belief that political correctnes­s threatens Canada’s identity and culture.

The group was recently banned from participat­ing in the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, whose organizers apologized on Sunday after the NCA walked in its parade.

“We apologize to anyone who may have felt unsafe at the Grand Street Parade because of this political party’s attendance and derogatory messaging,” organizers of the weeklong festival in Kentville, N.S., said in a statement.

Stephen Garvey, leader of the NCA, said on Thursday that he rejects the characteri­zation of the alliance, adding that no one in his party made hateful comments or uttered any hate speech.

Garvey added his group doesn’t tolerate racism, and argued that his organizati­on was taking part in the parade just like other political parties were.

The NCA is not an officially registered party but has committed to running candidates in the 2019 federal election.

“They’re the ones dividing people,” he said. “If we offended people, that’s their problem, not ours. As far as we’re concerned, we probably added some nice spice to the festival.”

Garvey said the group wanted to host a town hall at the Halifax legion to clear up the confusion that has plagued it since it made headlines with its role in the Apple Blossom Festival.

Among the group’s core tenets is the goal of implementi­ng a “strong no-nonsense immigratio­n policy that puts the well-being and safety of the Canadian people first and implementi­ng a temporary pause and substantia­l reduction in immigratio­n.”

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