Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Saskatoon Library Refuses to Let Conservative Leadership Candidate Hold Meeting

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Saskatoon Library Refuses to Let Conservative Leadership Candidate Hold Meeting

Article excerpt

Library tells Tory candidate he's not welcome

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OTTAWA - A public library has told a Conservative leadership candidate he can't use their facility to host a meet-and-greet with pro-life supporters because the event's "controversial nature" will lead to protests they can't manage.

But the candidate, Saskatoon MP Brad Trost, says he believes the decision is more about the topic itself than any threat of protest.

"If this was an environmental group with a bunch of unemployed oilpatch workers protesting, I don't think they would be getting the boot," Trost said Thursday from the sidelines of the Conservative caucus meeting in Quebec City.

"But that's just my opinion and I can't really prove that one way or the other."

Trost was supposed to hold meetings at a branch of the Saskatoon public library Saturday afternoon on a variety of topics; one of the advertised sessions was to discuss "respect for life."

Two anti-abortion organizations were encouraging their members to attend, and in response, a protest page cropped up on Facebook calling for those who support abortion rights to make their voices heard as well.

"I can't believe this conversation is even still happening in 2017. So we're going to protest!" read the Facebook invitation.

At the time the booking was made, the library was told the space was needed for a "day of reflection" by an unnamed group, but last week they were alerted to the anticipated subject matter by a protest organizer.

"We're just not equipped with staff, security, space to manage to a protest against Mr. Trost," said Carol Cooley, the chief executive officer for Saskatoon's libraries.

"It has nothing to do with his views, we definitely back intellectual freedom and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It's just a matter of, 'Can we operationally handle the event and the resulting protest?' And we really can't."

Cooley said had they been made aware of the nature of the event at the time of the booking, they may have rejected the request, given the likelihood of protest.

Trost's campaign said they weren't trying to hide anything.

Originally, the plan had been for Trost to attend the event as a guest of pro-life organizers, but then it later morphed into a campaign event being organized by his team. …

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