Toronto Public Library board votes to revise room-booking policy after controversial memorial
The Toronto Public Library (TPL) board has voted in favour of changing its community and event space rental policy after a memorial event in honour of a controversial lawyer earlier this year at a west-end library.
Among the changes outlined in a report approved by board members Monday evening, library staff will be able to deny or cancel bookings “when the library reasonably believes the purpose of the booking is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting, discrimination, contempt or hatred of any group.”
“The main objectives of the room booking policy are to provide equitable access to services and to maintain a welcoming and supportive environment free from discrimination and harassment,” the report said.
“The revised language in Toronto Public Library’s Community and Event Space Rental policy emphasizes to those wanting to book library spaces, library customers in general, and all stakeholders throughout Toronto, that hate activity is not permitted on library premises.”
The changes come after a memorial event held in July for Barbara Kulaszka, a lawyer whose clients included Marc Lemire, the leader of the now-disbanded white supremacy group Heritage Front, at the Richview branch. Members of city council and residents spoke out against allowing the booking after learning about the memorial.
In the report, the TPL said it consulted with lawyers and was told it could not refuse the booking based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other policies. Staff subsequently consulted external lawyers as it reviewed the community and event space rental policy.
The revised policy is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.
— With files from The Canadian Press and Jessica Patton
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