NANAIMO, British Columbia – Nanaimo city council has repealed the motion it passed May 5 banning a Christian leadership conference booked for the city’s convention centre, because the conference was partially sponsored by the American fast food chain Chik-Fil-A.
The decision to rescind the motion comes after thousands of Canadians expressed their outrage to city councilors over what lawyer and Sun News host Ezra Levant, who spearheaded the backlash, called “shocking” and “vicious” anti-Christian bigotry.
Levant announced the repeal of the motion in an email to the more than 6,000 citizens who responded to his appeal to sign his petition demanding that Nanaimo rescind the motion.
“Congratulations! You did it!” he said, pointing out that in a “hastily-called” meeting last Thursday, the council rescinded the motion, and apologized for having passed it.
The contentious motion centered on an approved booking for the “Beyond You” Leadercast event, which was scheduled to be broadcast on May 9 at the taxpayer-owned Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
Chick-fil-A owner and Christian businessman Dan Cathy came under fire by homosexual activists in 2012 for publicly supporting marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Cathy reaffirmed his support for true marriage earlier this year, but suggested he would be less outspoken on the issue.
The May 9 conference, which was simulcast at hundreds of venues around the world, featured top-level speakers including former First Lady Laura Bush and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
At its May 5 meeting, Nanaimo councilors voted 8-1 to revoke the contract Leadercast had with the conference center. They also passed the motion that banned “any events that are associated with organizations or people that promote or have a history of divisiveness, homophobia, or other expressions of hate.”
During their televised meeting the councilors didn’t specify what they found “hateful” about the fast food chain or the Leadercast event. But Councilor Fred Pattje, who drafted and presented the motion, argued that the Christian view of marriage had no place in what he called a “progressive and open-minded” city such as Nanaimo.
In addition to organizing the petition campaign, Levant had held a rally on the steps of Nanaimo city hall attended by more than 100 people, and threatened legal action against councilors who equated Christians to organized crime and terrorist groups.
Councilor Jim Kipp had said that banning the event was no worse than banning an organized crime ring, saying the Christian view of marriage should “almost be a criminal point of view in this day and age,” while the event itself was compared to the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.
Levant said that what “turned the tables” in Nanaimao was “tolerant Canadians deciding that we just couldn't let Nanaimo get away with an intolerant motion. No group should be driven out of the public square because of their faith.”
Levant stated out that during his visit to Nanaimo he discovered that the mayor of the city, John Ruttan, had made “secret payments” to individuals in order to avoid a court case.
“I learned incredible things during my visit to Nanaimo on Wednesday, including the mayor telling me that he had agreed to make secret payments to settle out of court with people who had been discriminated against by the city,” Levant revealed. “Who knows how many thousands of tax dollars were burnt up, cleaning up the mess that council made.”
A video of Levant describing Nanaimo city council's controversial motion is available here.
His report on the repeal of the motion is available here.
Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan
Mayor's Office, 455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5J6
Email; [email protected]
Contact info for all Nanaimo city councilors is available here.