Nanaimo’s mayor and council have pulled an abrupt U-turn rescinding a council motion that set off a firestorm of controversy.
Council yanked a permit for the May Leadercast 2014 conference after hearing concerns from Gay Rights Adovcates over links from the organizers to anti-gay marriage activism in the United States.
However Nanaimo mayor John Ruttan says that set off a powder-keg.
“It somehow morphed into a challenge by Naniamo against the Christian community and that was never ever the part that we wanted.”
Ruttan says council rescinded the motion and he has since publicly apologized.
“We apologize and regret our actions stated in the motion of May the 5th. The motion was aimed at preventing divisiveness and hate and instead caused the opposite. We did not intend on curtailing freedom of speech and apologize for any negative comments directed at people of all faiths.”
Ruttan says council had good intentions voting through the initial motion by making a stand over the concern from Gay Rights activists in the city.
But Ruttan says council soon found itself on the wrong end of a freedom of speech battle.
“In hindsight I think everyone on council is now aware that a certain risk lies in trying to appease certain groups. I am not saying it was wrong we supported that group but I think it was perhaps wrong that we didn’t do more research, give it more time, and bring it up at a following meeting where we could have had the luxury of having staff input.”
He is hoping council’s actions and the apology will put the whole issue to rest.