As news of a “nationalist rally” purportedly set to take place next month on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus prompted outcry on social media Monday, the school says that no such event is being hosted there.
The event surfaced online after clashes between hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazi groups, Klu Klux Klan members and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va. during a weekend that left three people dead and more than a dozen injured.
A Facebook page for the “Toronto Nationalist Rally” describes the event as scheduled to take place on Sept. 14 on the university grounds.
“Join us … as we discuss the nationalist movement in Canada the future of our country,” says the page for the event hosted by the Canadian Nationalist Party.
The page also says “anyone who violates the freedom of expression or the physical well-being of another person will be immediately escorted out and handed over to law enforcement.”
The website for the Canadian Nationalist Party — not a registered political party in Canada — outlines a 21-point platform calling for the removal of the “destructive stance of multiculturalism” from the Charter and the formation of a national citizen militia for the purpose of “self-defense [sic],” among other things.
n an email to CBC News, University of Toronto director of media relations Althea Blackburn-Evans said the school has had no communication with this group and that there is no such booking on its campus.
Blackburn also said the school has contacted Facebook asking them “to remove U of T as the location of the event, given that there is no such space booking.”
Public spaces such as the streets and sidewalks that run through the campus are nevertheless accessible to anyone.
Asked if the university would entertain a request for the rally, however, she responded:
“I can’t speculate on how we might respond to a booking request … We consider any space bookings on a case-by-case basis.”
Regardless of whether the Sept. 14 rally takes place, one researcher on right-wing extremism says events like it are likely to become more and more frequent.
“It feels like this is the beginning of something more,” said Barbara Perry, a professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. “It’s almost a call to arms amongst those looking to ‘unite the right’ as they were saying in Virginia.”