A citizens’ group has formed following an Ontario City Council meeting where a man accused of stealing pride flags was allowed to speak for 30 minutes and ‘vomit hate’ of the gay community.
Jacob (Jake) Dey, who runs a farm equipment supply store in Tillsonburg, Ont., has been charged with theft after the Norwich farming community’s Pride flags were taken down. On Tuesday, the 47-year-old businessman addressed Norwich City Council for half an hour, in a speech that compared the gay community to a Nazi-like social movement in 1930s Germany.
No politician stopped Dey from speaking. People in the public gallery who asked him to stop the speech were told by politicians to be respectful and let Dey do the talking.
“Many of us share a very similar sentiment, that we are all shocked by what we heard at the council meeting, frustrated that this even happened, that the council provided this specific delegation with the platform. form to spit the hate and the hate speech they did,” said Brian Kennedy, spokesperson for the citizens’ group.
“It really made us feel like we were abandoned by our township and it really made us now have to deal with the consequences of hearing this hate, of having been there, of witnessing it, of living with, and now from I have to answer it. Everyone was very hurt, very saddened and, of course, angry.
During Dey’s presentation, he talked about the Bible and questioned the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The citizens’ group, which met on Wednesday evening, discussed what to do about Dey and what it calls a homophobic portrayal, as well as Norwich Township Council’s inaction during of the presentation.
The Criminal Code defines hate speech as “statements, other than in private conversation” that “deliberately promote hatred against any identifiable group”, as well as “the communication of statements in any public place” that “incites hatred against any identifiable group when such incitement is likely to result in a breach of the peace. »
They ignored the rules, employee says
When Dey asked to present his thoughts on the pride flags to the township council, officials sought legal advice on whether to let him speak, said Ken Kruger, Norwich clerk and chief administrative officer.
This is the first time officials have sought legal advice before someone spoke to advisers, Kruger said.
“Based on that legal opinion, he was allowed to speak,” Kruger said, but with some limitations: only about the Pride banners in township spaces and not about the legal charges he faces.
Dey was also told not to speak “disrespectfully to anyone or in any way that would be considered hateful,” Kruger added.
Dey significantly exceeded the 10-minute time limit usually given to delegate speakers. In the eight years he was city clerk, no one showing up for council had their time cut short, even if they exceeded the 10-minute limit, Kruger said.
Norwich Township Integrity Commissioner Greg Stewart said he had no comment on whether or not he had received any complaints about Dey or council members.
Norwich Mayor Larry Martin told CBC News he wished he had tried harder to stop Dey’s presentation.
“We weren’t too keen on allowing Mr. Dey to speak, but my interpretation was that if he doesn’t touch on certain topics he has every right to present at a council meeting,” Martin said. “As president, a lot of the blame lies on my shoulders. There was a lot going on in that room, the room was packed and I was scared of what would happen if I shut it down.”
There have since been emails from members of the community saying they don’t feel safe in Norwich, Martin said, which he regrets. “Mr. Dey’s comments do not reflect the views of the board,” he said.
Com. Lynne DePlancke, who was also at Tuesday’s meeting, said she was sorry no one stopped Dey after 10 minutes.
“At first he wasn’t hateful or critical, but over time he became very hateful towards people,” she said. “As advice, it’s a mistake on our part. It should have been cut.”
DePlancke is also a member of the Norwich Business Improvement Association (BIA), which voted to install Pride flags in the city.
Com. John Scholten said he would not call what Dey said “hateful”, but rather a “strong disagreement” with Pride flag supporters.
“The feelings are strong, for sure. They are very strong. I just want everyone to calm down,” Scholten said.
Complaints against a member of the police commission
The Norwich Police Services Board has received five complaints against Gerrit Tenhove, a provincial appointee to the police board, after speaking to the Norwich Business Improvement Association about his disappointment that the BIA had installed community pride flags.
“As a Christian church community, we hold to the authority of the Bible. When it comes to gender and sexuality, the Bible is very clear. God created male and female…in terms of of sexuality, all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin,” Tenhove said in her June 7 presentation.
The Norwich Police Service Board is meeting on June 24 to deal with these complaints.