In one corner, you had the “anti-racists” who gathered to talk about racism in Canada and new legislation to end it. In the other, you had the so-called “racists.”
Needless to say, this was set up to be a powder keg.
What was billed as an “Anti-Racism Town Hall” at the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church on Gerrard St. at Woodbine Ave. on Thursday evening turned into part socialism lecture and part ‘The Jerry Springer Show’.
Actually, it was so surreal it seemed more like a ‘Simpsons’ town hall meeting, complete with characters like Mayor Quimby, Sideshow Bob, Mr. Burns, and Krusty the Clown.
And yes, Toronto Police’s 55 Division was called in.
First things first. On the stage, you had the author of the M-103 motion to protect criticism of Islam and other religions, MP Iqra Khalid, Ontario Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism Michael Coteau, Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts, and Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, all of whom who had a similar message about the existence of racism in Canada and Ontario, and the need to fix it.
There was talk about how it costs $60 million a year to “incarcerate” youth in the Jane and Finch area and how 22% of black university graduates don’t get jobs whereas it’s at just 10% for white “drop-outs,” how “colonial Canada” supplanted the indigenous peoples, and how government needs to make sure “every person can reach his or her full potential” by “looking for ways to eliminate systematic racism barriers.”
Well, this was not sitting well with some of the proud-to-be-rednecks in the crowd. And it boiled over when Khalid started saying M-103 was not an anti-blasphemy law but more a tool to foster stronger diversity.
“You are a fraud,” yelled one guy.
“Is this going to be Shariah law,” a woman shouted.
“This is only about protecting Islam and designed to bring more Muslims over here,” said another man.
The most vocal and animated was none other than Eric Brazau, who has spent nine months in jail for “promoting hatred” and at one point held up a copy of the Qur’an in protest.
The crowd grew impatient with the constant interruptions and started yelling “shut up” and “racists out.”
The bad behaviour was mostly from those protesting M-103, but there were some outbursts from the anti-racism crowd as well — including one man pointing out white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada founder Paul Fromm and telling him to “f*** off.”
Fromm did not engage, but instead quietly wrote notes in the corner of the room. However, others were fully inflamed. At one point, it got so heated in the room it felt like it could explode.
“The police have been called and some people will be asked to leave,” Erskine-Smith said.
The police did come, but stayed outside in their car and didn’t escort anybody out.
“It was a strange night,” said Meir Weinstein, Jewish Defence League Canada national director, who was not impressed with the yelling at the politicians.
“I did have a question about why it is politicians accept awards from Islamic terror groups that want to kill Jews and annihilate Israel, but this is not part of any conversation,” Weinstein said. “Isn’t that racism?”
It was a fair question, but the grandstanding behaviour of some drowned it out. Ironically, the rude shouting played right into the hands of the politicians who never lost their cool, composure or even sense of humour.
But the fact there were politicians on one side suggesting Canada is systemically racist and people on the other side acting exactly like they are indeed racist is no laughing matter.