Mayor Gregor Robertson says he’s spoken with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Foundation in a bid to scrap an appearance by a controversial evangelical pastor at a Christian festival in March.
So far the answer’s been a “no” from the festival organisers.
Reverend Franklin Graham, a prominent American religious leader who also addressed crowds at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, is known for his offensive remarks about Muslims and LGBTQ people.
He’s slated to speak at the Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope, which runs from March 3-5 at Rogers Arena.
Robertson says there are safety concerns around Graham’s rhetoric, and there are concerns over both hate-speech and protests.
The mayor says that’s why he’ll continue to press for Graham not to speak.
“We’re going to keep in touch based on concerns that are arising in the community, and on the public safety front.”
Graham has referred to Islam as “evil” and gays as “the enemy.”
Police gear up for busy week
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Police Department says it is preparing for two events, both expected to be a lightning rod for demonstrations: Graham’s speaking engagement and the opening of Trump Tower next week.
The tower opening will be attended by the sons of controversial U.S. president Donald Trump, who’s not exactly known for Muslim-friendly rhetoric.
Chief Constable Adam Palmer says police will keep a watchful eye over the Graham event.
“There’s all kinds of things you look at in these circumstances. But you have to remember in Canada we have very strong freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
“People have been able to express themselves but there is a limit to where you should be able to go with it, we’ll be watching the situation to see where it goes.
On the Trump front, Palmer says the VPD response to Trump Tower has been planned for some time now, with discussions involving the RCMP, the U.S. Secret Service, and protesters.
He says they are expecting several protests for the February 28th opening.
“It looks like they’ll converge on Trump Tower on that day so we’ll have the right number of officers to deal with what might come just to keep the public safe.”
Palmer says police are also preparing for the possibility of demonstrations on the day of Graham’s speaking event.