My friends were busy yesterday.
My friend Bernie Farber, a veritable force of nature who is presently up to something big, scored a victory against hate yesterday: he and others persuaded the Toronto Library Board to reject hate.
From the Star:
The Toronto library board unanimously approved restrictions that will prevent groups from renting library space to promote discrimination or hate.
Library staff can now deny or cancel bookings they believe are “likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt or hatred of any group, hatred for any person” based on race, ethnicity, colour, language, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, among other factors, according to a staff report.
“Be bold, be courageous. Reject hate, embrace diversity,” Bernie Farber, a former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, told the board during a meeting at the reference library on Monday night. “Your policy sends a very strong statement that the library will not be a comfortable living room for white supremacists.”
John Tory and many members of council favoured this, too. And it’s the right way to fight prejudice. As I told others yesterday:
1. Public libraries are funded by the public.
2. They are extensions of government.
3. Governments are explicitly prohibited from facilitating discrimination by virtue of their own laws.
4. Libraries can’t EVER offer public space to neo-Nazis.
So, that was a win. And a victory over prejudice. Kudos to all concerned.
Here’s another one: my friends Khadija Cajee and Sulemaan Ahmed are also forces of nature. For quite some time now, they’ve been leading the charge, righteously, for No Fly Kids – the group of Canadians whose names are flagged on Canada’s No-Fly List, known as the Passenger Protect Program. That No Fly List has even targeted children as young as eight years old.
This week, Sulemaan and Khadija were successful in getting the support of more than 200 Members of Parliament, from all parties. The names of their Parliamentary supporters is being released today when the No Fly Kids leadership testify in front of Public Safety Committee regarding C-59.
Here just some of the Privy Council folks who have written letters to support No Fly Kids in this important battle against intolerance: Liberals Jane Philpott, Ahmed Hussen, Kent Hehr, Carla Qualtrough, Hedy Fry, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Harjit Sajjan, Dominic Leblanc, Amarjeet Sohi, Kirsty Duncan, Chrystia Freeland, Catherine McKenna, Maryam Monsef, Lawrence MacAulay, Ginette Petipas-Taylor, Ralph Goodale, Jim Carr, Navdeep Bains, Bill Morneau, Patty Hajdu, Bardish Chagger, Karina Gould, Carolyn Bennett – and Conservatives like Andrew Scheer, Lisa Raitt, Erin O’Toole, Steven Blaney, Kellie Leitch, Michelle Rempel, Tony Clement and many, many more. From the NDP and the Bloc, too.
One Privy Councillor, one cabinet minister, I am told, was contacted multiple times. She didn’t reply. Perhaps she was too busy trying to persuade the Speaker of the House of Commons about her latest flight of idiocy – trying to get the Speaker to shut down all of Parliament Hill for up to 8 months, so she could put a 40,000-seat arena around her $6-million no-hockey hockey rink. Yes, Canada’s worst-ever cabinet minister, Melanie Joly. She didn’t support No Fly Kids, I am reliably informed. Figures.
Anyway. Thought I’d bring some good news to your attention: a victory against bigotry down on the ground at the Toronto Library Board, and one against institutionalized bigotry up in the air, with No Fly Kids.