Toronto Mayor John Tory requests Al Quds Rally hate speech report from Police Chief and City Manager

On June 10, 2019, CAEF Executive Director Andria Spindel wrote a letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory about the blatant antisemitism on display at the Al Quds Rally on city property on June 1, and how council needs to enforce the Toronto City bylaw prohibiting hate activity from taking place on City property. She recommended that the Al Quds organizers should be held accountable for their illegal protest, march and hate activity on City property. The City responded with the letter following that was written from the Mayor to the Chief of Police and the City Manager. Their response accompanying this letter follows below, with the original email complaint at bottom.

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Mayor John Tory - letterhead

June 13, 2019

Chief Mark Saunders
Chief of Police
Toronto Police Service
40 College Street
Toronto, M5G 2J3

Chris Murray
City Manager
City of Toronto
4th floor East Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, M5H 2N2

 

Dear Chief and City Manager:

As you know, the City Council recently approved a series of measures designed to ensure that to the maximum extent possible city properties were not used for events which were in violation of the City's policies put in place to prevent discrimination and hate speech.

These measures and requested actions included more expeditious reporting on events which are either sponsored by groups known for using hate speech and/or events which have a past history involving discrimination or hate speech.

Also included were requests for increased efforts to issue trespass notices in the case of events of this kind which take place on City property without the required permits and assessment of policing and other costs associated with such events.

I am very anxious to see that proper note has been taken of these requests and directions coming from our duly elected City Council especially because they will help us to underline the widely held view that discrimination and hate speech have no place whatsoever in the City of Toronto and are not welcome on City property.

In that regard, I would appreciate your respective offices providing me, within the proper bounds, with a report on two recent events which took place in the City which may have contained elements of discrimination and/or hate speech.

It is my information that in the case of some if not all of these events, city resources, including Toronto Police service members, were deployed at these events and would therefore have access to video and audio recordings of what took place, as well as photographs of signage which may have contained discriminatory or hateful language.

I think it is important both in terms of accountability in relation to the city's recent decisions and in terms of strongly discouraging this kind of behaviour, that these reports are prepared and ideally made available, and that it is done on a timely basis.

Accordingly, I would ask that you report as completely as you can on the following events:

  1. Al Quds day event held on University Avenue on June 1, 2019
     
  2. Demonstration held on Church Street near Wellesley on June 4, 2019

I view this request as an important element in sending out the message loud and clear that there is no place for discrimination or hate speech in our city and I think that our following through on the measures approved by the City Council will help to minimize or eliminate this kind of behaviour going forward.

Thank you very much for your co-operation.

bottom of letter

 

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From: Mayor Tory

Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2019 2:23 PM
To: Andria Spindel - CAEF
Subject: RE: Deny Al Quds Rally a license and implement City Council decisions

Hello,

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the Al Quds rally.

As the Mayor of one of the most diverse cities in the world, Mayor Tory has repeatedly condemned any form of hate speech. The Mayor has been clear that he will not tolerate, ignore, or condone illegal discrimination or harassment, including any rally that incites hatred and/or violence against groups or persons.

Recently, Mayor Tory led City Council in considering its policies regarding hate sponsored rallies on public property. Among other things, Council:

  • Directed staff to develop a policy to refuse permits for any events advocating hatred or violence against any faith, race, or sexual orientation on City property;
  • Directed staff to monitor rallies in City parks and work with the Toronto Police Service on-site in order to enforce by-law contraventions, including opportunities to charge event organizers for operating without a permit;
  • Requested staff to, where possible, issue trespass or trespass warning letters to identifiable participants engaged in hate activities at rallies on City property;
  • Requested to, whenever possible, make efforts to obtain reimbursement from organizers of events engaged in hate activities on City property for all City-incurred expenses.


For more information on City Council's full direction, we encourage you to please visit the website link below:

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.EX5.3

Further to this, Mayor Tory has asked the Chief of Police and City Manager to provide a full report on the Al Quds day event.

To read Mayor Tory's letter to the Chief of Police and City Manager, please see the attached document.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to our office.

Sincerely,

Mayor's Administration

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From: Andria Spindel - CAEF
Sent: June 10, 2019 10:55 AM
To: Mayor Tory
Subject: Deny Al Quds Rally a license and implement City Council decisions

Dear Mayor Tory and Members of Council;

The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation has noted the extreme antisemitism, antiZionism and bigotry expressed at the annual Al Quds Day Rally held in downtown Toronto, as well as other major cities across the Globe. This event, sponsored by the terror regime in Iran since 1979 is a danger to our democracy, a challenge to truth, an insult to Israel which is the only democracy in the Middle East and of course, a huge threat to Jews in our own city who hear death threats at this rally. Despite a belief in free speech, we ask that City Council act with urgency to stop this event and enforce the Toronto City bylaw prohibiting hate activity from taking place on City property. Al Quds organizers should be held accountable for their illegal protest, march and hate activity on City property on Saturday June 1, 2019. They should be admonished for ignoring the bylaw and be required to pay for the Policing of the event and for the clean-up conducted by City workers. Free speech is not an acceptable argument to make in the wake of hate speech and the history we have learned from  past horrors. Hatred and violence begins with words but doesn’t always end with words.

The organizers were aware that they needed to have a permit for their event and that they were breaking the law against promoting hatred on City property and acting without a permit. We assume that they expected such a permit would not have been granted.

Moreover, the Toronto Police should be chastised for allegedly escorting the Al Quds marchers and stopping traffic for them since the protest was against a Toronto Bylaw.

This annual event is disgusting and causes members of both Jewish and non-Jewish Torontians great concern. If the organizers do not feel the results of their disregard of our laws, our values and human ethics,  they will be encouraged to create more hate-filled protests and demonstrations, and we know where that can lead. It has been the cause of violence and conflict wherever such hatred has been promulgated.

If Toronto does not enforce its own by-laws and if antisemitism is  tolerated, we will see further deterioration in our civil society. This is certainly not optimum for a city that prides itself on inclusion, multiculturalism and tolerance.

We look forward to a reply to this letter and to action on the part of the City.

Respectfully,

Andria Spindel, Executive Director
Irving Weisdorf, President

Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation
P.O. Box 42044 John Woodbine PO
Markham, ON L3R 0P9
Phone: 905-413-7230