A British Columbia man has used the government of Canada’s brand new electronic petitioning system to ask that Ottawa consider preventing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from entering the country.
David Black, a resident of New Westminster, has the backing of local NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who is acting as the petition’s official sponsor in Parliament. Reached by Global News on Thursday, Black said his petition was created in response to Trump’s controversial call to prevent Muslims from entering the U.S.
Until Trump apologizes for the remarks, Black said, he should not be welcome on Canadian soil.
“So many people were upset by (Trump’s) comments,” he said, adding that residents of Vancouver are also hoping to see the name “Trump” removed from a building owned by the real estate mogul that is currently under construction in the city.
“Especially with social media there are so many petitions and things to sign on to … but other than sharing them around, they don’t go anywhere. Now we have a petition that our government has to address.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the e-petition had garnered about 950 signatures. Once a petition has more than 500 signatures, the government is required to issue a formal response to it within six weeks of it being tabled in the House of Commons.
Stewart said he will table the petition once the window for collecting signatures closes on April 12, 2016.
“I don’t think it’s frivolous, because what (Trump) has said is deeply offensive,” the Burnaby South MP said of the petition.
“Saying that all Mexicans are rapists, and saying a specific religious group should be completely banned from the U.S., you can imagine if one of our politicians said that.”
There is precedent for banning groups or individuals from entering Canada if they are perceived to be spreading hate speech. The government issued orders to keep members of the Westboro Baptist Church out of the country in 2008, for example, after they said they would picket the funeral of Greyhound bus murder victim Tim McLean.
In 2010, Indian Muslim televangelist Zakir Naik was similarly prevented from entering Canada to speak at a conference. Naik had claimed “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and that Jews are “our staunchest enemy.”
Stewart was one of the main architects of the new e-petitioning system, which launched two weeks ago. He said he’s hopeful that the system will encourage Canadians to become more involved in the political process, and lead to a wider variety of topics being discussed in the House of Commons. That includes Donald Trump.
“The (responses from the government) are often two sentences saying ‘we’re not going to do this,’ but I think it’ll much different in the digital world,” Stewart said.
Even if Ottawa brushes off the call to keep Trump out, Black said, the petition will at least garner some attention.
“What I’m really hopeful for is that Mr. Trump sees the negative attention that he gets from the rest of the world.”
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