October 10, 2023
Sent by Email
The Hon. MPP Michael S. Kerzner
Re: Preventing Rising Hate in Ontario
Dear Hon. MPP Michael Kerzner,
I am writing to you to share the needs of a local Pride organization that needs clarity and support from your Ministry about the limits of laws to protect Ontario’s 2SLGBTQI+ communities.
This year, Grey Bruce Pride participated in an incredible local initiative to visibly spread support for 2SLGBTQI+ communities to parts of Ontario where 2SLGBTQI+ youth and individuals can often feel isolated and looked over. They distributed coroplast lawn signs that said “Grey Bruce Pride lives here” to community members and allies.
Unfortunately, those who placed Pride lawn signs received intimidating letters. They know of almost 100 individuals who had a lawn sign and received a letter. The letters directly quoted the Bible passage Leviticus 20:13 — which calls for the death penalty for people understood to have participated in non-heteronormative intercourse.
When Grey Bruce Pride approached their local police service, they were informed that the letter did not constitute hate speech. As I am sure you know, Canadian law defines hate speech as “Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group”. I do want to recognize that since I met with Grey Bruce Pride, they attempted to determine who was sending these letters.
Prides across Ontario are under attack by far-right extremists sharing who are actively misinformation. I would like to seek clarity from your Ministry about what guidelines exist and are shared with police forces across Ontario to define and regulate hate speech and distribution of hate propaganda.
As you know, 2SLGBTQI+ Ontarians feel more targeted now than ever before by organized hate promotion campaigns from the United States of America. Ontarians deserve a government that does not stand idly by while some of our most vulnerable community members are targeted. I believe that our laws need to be strengthened to better protect 2SLGBTQI+ Ontarians — that is why I have tabled the Keeping 2SLGBTQI+ Communities Safe Act, 2023, but this is an event where we do not even need new legislation to keep our communities safe — we need to enforce existing legislation.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss what Ontario’s government can do to keep our communities safe. As I have highlighted many times in Question Period, the government lacks a plan to combat anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate crimes as well as an Ontario Provincial Police Unit to help coordinate and standardize anti-2SLGBTQI+ hate crime enforcement. I am struggling to see why this is the case — Ontarians need a government that is tough on hate crimes now.
Member of Provincial Parliament