Protesters and counter-protesters gather outside St. Catharines' MP office
A protest and counter-protest has sprung up outside the office of St. Catharines' Member of Parliament.
MP Chris Bittle says they first learned about the protest last week, and today a group of people arrived outside his office. The group waved a Canadian flag while holding signs emblazoned with the words 'Patriots on Guard against Trudeau' and 'Jail ISIS Fighters.'
"Approximately four of them have shown up to protest the government. But it also seems to be very much an anti-Muslim sentiment to the group," Bittle tells CKTB News. "The Niagara Anti-Racism Coalition is also here with a counter-protest and they are outnumbering the white supremacists - there's about 15 or so Anti-Racism Coalition members opposed to four white supremacists. But it is upsetting to see that in this day and time there are still people who cling to this belief of white supremacy and are willing to show their faces in public at a busy street corner and say that to the rest of the community."
Bittle says the original protesters have not spoken to him directly, but if they did he knows exactly what he would say:
"I'd tell them, as I do on social media and as I do at any opportunity, that their views have no place within our community, that they have no place within Canada. We have a history of diversity and we are strong because of that diversity not in spite of it. And I will continue to represent this community and stand against hate and speak against discrimination, racism, and hatred, and that this meagre protest will not stop me but will actually encourage me to do more."
The protest comes only weeks after a St. Catharines resident attending regional council was called a 'terrorist' and told to 'go home' before the meeting began by another man sitting in the public gallery.
Bittle goes on to say that the small group of protesters do not represent St. Catharines as a whole. "I am heartened when I look back to last year and I look back to the rally in the aftermath of the Charlottesville violence. And to see hundreds of residents come out and even in the freezing cold back in February at the mosque to see about a thousand residents stand against white supremacist organizations like this."