Ottawa Public Library cancels screening of controversial ‘Killing Europe’ film

The main branch of the Ottawa Public Library on Metcalfe Street.

A controversial 2017 film will not be screened at the Ottawa Public Library this Saturday.

A group called ACT! for Canada had planned to rent a room in order to screen a movie called “Killing Europe” at the main branch downtown.

A description of the film, by Danish ex-patriate Michael Hansen, says, “Terrorist attacks, riots, and gang rapes are striking at the very foundations of Europe. This is the story of a Danish expatriate and his quest to uncover the growing issues within the European society he left 15 years ago.” A trailer for the movie show snippets of interviews that decry so-called "no-go zones," media coverage of terrorist attacks, and a warning that the filmmaker will be called a Nazi simply for making the film.

Library Board Chair councillor Tim Tierney tells Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now he had heard several complaints about the planned screening and brought those to the attention of Library staff.

“I try not to interfere with the day-to-day operations of the library,” Tierney says. “That being said, we do have policies and procedures and I’ve heard from our labour council in Ottawa, I’ve heard from our unions, that there’s concern. I brought it to the attention of our CEO, Danielle McDonald, she looked at our policies and procedures, which includes the police actually viewing it, the staff viewing it; it passed those tests, but there were some other hurdles that were there and we decided that the best decision was we aren’t going to show the movie.”

Tierney says he applauds the decision by Library staff and he has already received positive feedback about it.

“We’re not about closing out people’s views on things, but this one doesn’t pass the test,” he said.

Tierney likens the argument about freedom of expression at the Library to the recent controversy about the Library’s pornography policy.

“We actually have a very strict set of policies and procedures. If you want to rent a room, you have to go through all of those gates,” he says. “This isn’t the first time this has happened; this is a perennial favourite. A lot of people come in to our libraries and use them for a lot of educational purposes. That will always continue. But, again, we have policies and procedures, the CEO executes those, and in this case, they’ve decided to rescind on the rental of the room and, again, I support our CEO on that.”

The group ACT! for Canada claims their mission is to speak out “in defense of our democratic values, our security and our liberty against the rise of Islamism.” The group’s website makes the distinction between “Islam as a personal faith” and “Islamism as a political ideology” and says “a failure to understand this and maintain the distinction is the strategic reason since 9/11 why the West is failing to confront this threat globally.”

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