I am writing concerning a rather upsetting experience my family and I had while visiting our nation's capital on Family Day weekend.
On the Family Day Monday, my partner, our children and I ventured from our hotel over to Parliament hill to visit the parliament buildings and the eternal flame. After a weekend of visiting the Art Gallery and skating on the Rideau Canal, my partner and I were eager to show the kids the epicenter of where Canada's legendary social justice laws and policies are forged.
Imagine our surprise, then, when we were greeted by a large arrangement of placards featuring insulting commentary about gay marriage, and graphic images of aborted fetuses. (One sign also proclaimed that one was not to use birth control; the logic escapes me, but nevertheless, I digress.)
As an LGBTQ family, we were particularly troubled by the gay marriage poster prominently displayed front and center. More to the point: In a country that has celebrated marriage equality for more than a decade, how is it -- we wondered -- that someone would be allowed to display large, homophobic posters on Parliament Hill, a public space where families, some of them LGBTQ, visit?
When I asked the gentleman about his signs, he protested that I was suggesting that he was not entitled to his own opinions. I responded that while I was all in favour of diversity of thought, it was my understanding that in Canada, we've decided as a nation, as a culture, that there are some thoughts we don't share publicly. For example, I pointed out, if he were a racist who believed in segregation, surely he would not post a sign stating his belief that blacks and whites ought to drink out of separate fountains? I also offered to debate the scriptural roots of his apparent homophobia, but he did not seem familiar with the Bible, or at least, not enough so to have an intelligent conversation about it.
Moving past this ridiculous display, we walked towards the centre block while trying with little success to explain this gentleman's (his name is Tony, apparently) outlandish behaviour to our children, who were as perpexed as we were that someone would be discrediting their mothers' relationship and their family in such an open, public forum. When we arrived at the main entry to the building, we chatted briefly with the police officer. I wanted to let him know that there was a protestor out front displaying hate propaganda.
I was shocked and dismayed when said officer -- while commiserating with us -- informed us that Tony apparently has a permit!!! His anti-Canadian rights and freedoms public display is allegedly legal!?!!
When we returned from our Family Day adventure, we decided to investigate a little further, and came upon the following Gov't of Canada webpage: http://www.pch.gc.ca/eng/1407163839555 This yielded some interesting information.
In particular, we are curious about the following two items:
It seems to me that -- quite apart from the content of his materials -- the gentleman's display could be classified as both a structure and a prop.
In any case, my family and I are eager to learn more about how it is that homophobic and mysogynistic protesters are permitted to have semi-permanent displays (or any displays, really) at our nation's capital. We therefore look forward to your speedy response.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Vera C. Teschow
We shall see what transpires...