Cancel Maxime Bernier's appearance at the Guelph Youth Music Centre

Cancel Maxime Bernier's appearance at the Guelph Youth Music Centre

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To whom it may concern:

We, the undersigned citizens of Guelph, call upon the Board of Directors of the Guelph Youth Music Centre to nullify its plan to host Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada.

On Friday, July 19th, the Guelph Youth Music Centre (GYMC) is facilitating an interview with Maxime Bernier, of the People’s Party of Canada, as part of his campaign for the 2019 federal election. In recent days, the GYMC’s decision to host Bernier has drawn sharp criticism and indignation from the wider Guelph community. 

Over the last year, Maxime Bernier has styled himself as a figurehead of Canada’s far-right through his crusade against what he calls “extreme multiculturalism” [1]. Furthermore, Bernier has publicly denied the fact of Canada’s acts of genocide against Indigenous people, as well as the findings of the nonpartisan National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls [2]. Such statements from Bernier reflect poorly on the GYMC, which has previously welcomed Indigenous folks through its annual “Decolonizing Thanksgiving Dinner” [3]. Moreover, Bernier has also publicly humiliated and bullied Canadian drag queen Brooke Lynn Hytes [4] and, just last week, posed for a picture with Kyle Puchalski [5] and other members of Northern Guard: a Canadian hate group which advocates against “illegal immigrants” and aims to “defend the country against its internal enemies” [6]. In this picture, one individual is flashing a hand gesture which the American Anti-Defamation League says represents the letters “wp” for “white power” [7]. 

The undersigned are also concerned by the fact that the People’s Party of Canada’s official platform plans to repeal hate crime and human rights legislation, such as bill C-16, with the intent of erasing “the existence of various gender identities beyond the biological categories of male and female”, under the guise of “freedom of speech” protections [8].

Clearly, the rhetoric and actions of Bernier and those who surround him are not aligned with the GYMC’s mission statement, which claims the organization “educates, enriches and fosters the development of our youth through music and the arts” [9]. The Guelph community has come to recognize the GYMC as a place to enable and encourage human flourishing, friendship, and community. It is simply not enough for the GYMC’s Board of Directors to plead ignorance with regard to the bigotry of Maxime Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada.

The GYMC’s Board of Directors includes: Kurt Christie, Chad Hepburn, Mark McDowell, Ken Gee, Paule Barsalou, Dirk Steinkee, Sarah Playford, Christopher Chrisman-Cox, and former MPP Liz Sandals.