THUNDER BAY – Editorial – The Business Improvement Area (BIA) in the Bay and Algoma Streets area has been working hard for a long time to make their neighbourhood a better place. On the weekend, a street fair and sidewalk sale was held. The BIA had invested months of work planning the event and invested in advertising to attract people to their neighbourhood.
A group from out west decided that having their vehicles, decorated with images of aborted fetuses, along with a sidewalk display of the same pictures could take advantage of the crowds gathered in the Bay and Algoma area to protest.
The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform has been making their way across Canada to make their message known.
In Canada the right of groups to protest is totally supported. However it appears that Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform takes, at least in my opinion, a similar approach to the Westboro Baptist Church in the United States. That group pushes the envelope of free speech to try to make their point.
The Westboro Baptist Church is a group that protests at the funerals of American soldiers holding up signs with a hate message toward homosexuals. They take the grief and sad times of a funeral and use them for their ‘freedom of speech’ to push a message out to the public.
In the equal spirit of free speech, I find the actions of groups like the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and the Westboro Church to be that of ‘wackaloons’. They likely offend more people than they please, and they seem happy to ride on the hard work of others in an effort to make their point.
In Thunder Bay, the frustration over the group coming in an area that has worked hard to build itself up, and to a degree hi-jacking the event boiled over for Brian Hamilton the President of the Bay and Algoma BIA.
After repeatedly asking the group to leave, and having that request ignored, he took action to demonstrate his view on the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform protestors.
Thunder Bay Police were on scene – They were shown papers by the protestors that allowed them to protest.
For many parents, and people in the area the images, along with the vehicles ‘creeping’ along the roadways were very disturbing.
It was finally too much for Brian Hamilton.
He poured chocolate milk on the protesters. He was arrested for his actions.
At the time of writing this, a defense fund has not been established. There likely should be.
While the Charter of Rights and Freedoms support freedom of speech, it should also protect those who don’t want a message shoved down their throats by the wacky tactics of groups with their views.
Perhaps what the BIA members should consider is a suit against the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform for the potential damage to their businesses, and to potential lost sales.
Here is a video of the event: