'Way to go, Vancouver': PM cheers as thousands oppose anti-immigration rally
Thousands gathered outside Vancouver City Hall on Saturday to show their support for diversity, in anticipation of a rally against Islam, immigration and the Liberal government’s policies on multiculturalism.
Vancouver police said they made five arrests for breaching the peace and two people were escorted out of the rally “to prevent a disturbance.” One of those arrested was brandishing a knife, according to police.
However, there were no reports of assaults or injuries among the estimated 4,000 people who attended, police said.
It was also clear that the pro-immigration group vastly outnumbered the anti-immigration rally.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his support in a tweet after the rally ended. "Way to go, Vancouver. Diversity will always be our strength," he wrote.
There was one man in the crowd holding a sign that said “Canada, stop illegal border crossings.” But many more were holding signs with messages like “love not hate” and “no platform for racists.” Some chanted, “No hate, no fear, Nazis are not welcome here.”
It’s not clear whether the organizers of the rally, including the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada’s Joey De Luca or the Cultural Action Party’s Brad Salzberg, even showed up.
A group called Stand up to Racism Metro Vancouver organized the opposition to the event.
One participant told CTV News Channel that the big turnout showed “what Vancouver is really made of.”
“I think we just showed that intolerance can be eclipsed by inclusion,” said the counter-protester, who identified himself as Bradley. “Misunderstanding and fear – there’s no place for that.”
B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver offered support for those standing up against the anti-immigration group.
"I extend my sincere gratitude to the citizens of Vancouver who are peacefully standing up to racism and hate today," Weaver said in a statement.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who attended Saturday, and B.C. Premier John Horgan both denounced the anti-immigration rally in earlier statements.
CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald reported that a man whose face was covered was arrested by police during the rally for allegedly carrying a knife near city hall. It’s unclear if the man was among either group of protesters.
The Vancouver rally comes on the same day as other dueling demonstrations across the world.
In Berlin, a counter-protest of an estimated 1,000 people prevented more than 500 right-wing extremists from marching to a Berlin prison where Rudolf Hess, a Nazi official, died.
In Boston, tens of thousands protesters marched through the city’s downtown core to show a message of solidarity against a planned “free speech” rally by a conservative group one week after the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. A Confederate flag was burned during the event.
With files from CTV Vancouver