The University of Toronto administration has denied the Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP) permission to use space on the St. George campus for the “Toronto Nationalist Rally” that was scheduled to take place on September 14. Althea Blackburn-Evans, U of T’s Director of Media Relations, told The Varsity that the administration contacted the CNP in light of their Facebook event to tell them that they did not have permission to use the space.
Earlier this week, Blackburn-Evans told The Varsity that she “can’t speculate” as to whether or not a booking by the CNP would be allowed by the university, as she had not been in contact with the group at that time.
On August 14, a tweet from the official U of T Twitter account read: “We’ve been asked about a Toronto Nationalist Rally happening here in September. There is no such booking. U of T is not hosting this event.”
The Canadian Nationalist Party was founded by Travis Patron of Redvers, Saskatchewan. Patron is described on the CNP website as a “political economist and digital money researcher.”
Patron previously told The Varsity that neither he nor the CNP had been in contact with the university about hosting an event on campus. “If they are interested in hosting an event that represents traditionalist values, and a nationalist political party, then that is something we can talk to them about,” Patron said.
In an email to The Varsity, UTSU Vice-President Equity Chim Alao wrote that the UTSU was “happy to hear that U of T has said outright that they will not allow the September 14th rally to occur.”
Alao noted that this “is only a step in the right direction. There is still a very large possibility that the rally will occur on campus regardless of UofT’s statement. In that case, the administration needs to be prepared for that and ensure that there are mechanisms in place to protect community members.”
Speaking to The Globe and Mail, Patron said that he still plans on holding the rally, and has alternate venues in mind that he did not specify.
While U of T spaces must be booked for events, much of the campus includes public property, such as city streets and sidewalks, that are accessible to anyone.
News of the CNP’s rally comes in the wake of protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. A ‘Unite the Right’ rally that saw a gathering of white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK ended in clashes with counter-protesters. James Alex Fields Jr., an Ohio man seen rallying amongst white nationalists, drove his car into a crowd of the counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
U of T President Meric Gertler published a statement on August 16 about the events in Charlottesville, offering sympathy and support to those affected by the violence. Gertler concluded his statement by saying that “bigotry, hate, intolerance and violence have no place on our campuses.”
On August 14, approximately 100 protesters gathered at 8:00 am in front of the United States Consulate to show solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Charlottesville’s ‘Unite the Right’ rally. The protest was organized by Anne Rubenstein, Associate Professor in the History Department at York University, and Donna Gabaccia, Professor of History at UTSC.
Many at Toronto’s protest on the morning of August 14 expressed their concerns about similar events occurring in Canada. Reva Quam, one of the protestors, believes that, although the history of the United States is different than Canada’s, white supremacy is present in all Western societies. “We would be fools to think that that doesn’t exist in Canada,” she said.
Travis Patron did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment in light of U of T’s decision.