Tory's office requested Meghan Murphy event be reconsidered


Mayor John Tory says his office requested the Toronto Public Library reverse its decision to keep a scheduled event with feminist writer Meghan Murphy later this month and he's disappointed the TPL hasn't. 

"If she has a lot of supporters and she wants to rent the Scotiabank Arena and fill it up with people, that's fine with me, that's a private facility," he said, but given the divisive nature of her appearance, it shouldn't be at the library. 

"We have an obligation to set a higher standard and that's why I'm disappointed with this decision." 

Murphy, founder of blog and podcast Feminist Current, is a common target of trans groups and others in the LGBT community for her writing and commentary on trans issues. 

For example, she testified in the Senate against Bill C-16, which added gender identity and expression to a of prohibited grounds of discrimination. 

"Treating gender as though it is either internal or a personal choice is dangerous and completely misunderstands how and why women are oppressed under patriarchy as a class of people," she said at the time. 

She's also labelled as a 'TERF' which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist and was suspended by Twitter for tweets including "men aren't women."

Her appearance also led to a boycott by local writers of continuing events at the library should the event go on, but despite that threat and the request by the mayor, the library is keeping it on schedule. 

"This is one of the most difficult issues we face, which is the balance between free expression and public buildings or elsewhere and people taking offense," Tory said. "I would just say there are thousands of other places, hotel rooms, offices, anywhere that they can have this meeting so this person could say what it is she has to say."

Murphy's talk is scheduled for October 29th at the Palmerston Library Theatre, titled "Gender Identity: What does it mean for society, the law and women?" 

In response to the backlash, City Librarian Vickery Bowles issued a lengthy statement with an FAQ section outlining the library's position.

"We have an obligation to protect free speech," she said, adding the library also reviewed its Community and Event Space Rental Policy. 

"We do not have any grounds to deny or cancel the booking," she said. 

As for a potential protest, Tory said people have the right to do so, but hopes it's kept peaceful.