Counter-protest planned as controversial group schedules another Halifax-area rally  

A protester holds up a sign at Victoria Park in Halifax ahead of a planned rally by the National Citizens Alliance on Friday, June 1, 2018. Graeme Benjamin / Global News

A political group with controversial views on immigration has planned another rally in Nova Scotia.

The National Citizens Alliance’s “Canadians First Rally” was scheduled to take place at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth on Saturday, but has been rescheduled to Sunday due to rain.

Stephen Garvey, the leader of the NCA, says the rally is being held at the request of members of the party.

“Our members are begging for us in the Maritimes [to hold a rally],” Garvey told Global News. “They want to go to a rally. They love the idea of a rally.”
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“Political rallies have been around for centuries. This is just peaceful, and it’s an opportunity to give some of our members an opportunity to speak.”

READ MORE: Solidarity Halifax blocks controversial political party from holding rally

The NCA is a Calgary-based, non-official party that believes multiculturalism and mass immigration policies are a “failure” as they result in a “divisive and fractured society.” The party has committed to running candidates in the 2019 federal election.

The party also believes immigrants should “adopt Canadian values” upon their entry to the country.

Garvey adds that the party has “zero tolerance” for racism and white supremacy, claiming former members have already been removed for holding such views.

Botched rally in Halifax 

The NCA attempted to hold a rally at Halifax’s Victoria Park on June 1, but was met with a wave of counter-protesters from Solidarity Halifax and other community organizations.

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The counter-protesters arrived at Victoria Park before NCA could begin to set up, and continuously shouted “white supremacy’s not welcome here” until NCA members departed.

Several other members of the public joined the call to block NCA’s recruitment efforts.

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Victoria Park was the NCA’s third rally destination location. The group had previously booked the gymnasium at a Halifax church, but the venue cancelled when they learned of the values that party represented.

Cambridge Suites Hotel and a Royal Canadian Legion hall also cancelled the NCA’s booking.

READ MORE: Group with controversial immigration views to rally in Halifax park after 3 venues cancel

Garvey hopes this rally will have a different outcome.

“We don’t want any issues like we had in Halifax,” he said. “This is about free speech, which is a constitutional right.”

Counter-protest in the works

Another counter-protest has been planned in an attempt to deter the NCA’s rally and recruitment efforts.

As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, over 130 people have said they’re attending.

A counter-protest to the NCA’s “Canadians First Rally” is gaining interest.
A counter-protest to the NCA’s “Canadians First Rally” is gaining interest. Source: Facebook

Dartmouth Coun. Sam Austin also chimed in amid public pressure, stating that the NCA “has not been provided space by Alderney.”

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Activist Daniel Whitten, with the Halifax branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, hopes the counter protest helps people realize what the NCA represents.

“(The NCA) is trying to represent themselves as mainstream political rhetoric and dialogue,” said Whitten, “but you can see by not only their rhetoric but groups they’re associated with that they are part of a movement of far right, white nationalist groups.”

Those groups, Whitten says, include the Council of European Canadians, which has affiliation with Identity Canada, an “ethno-nationalist” organization.

“I encourage everyone when they see this rhetoric, whether it’s from mainstream politicians or fringe groups, to really consider what the implications are,” said Whitten. “They’re using this language of mass migration, European culture and Canadian identity. I just really want people to think about what that means.”

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“When they have a rally called ‘Canadians First,’ who do they consider Canadians?”

Garvey says the group plans to use the counter protest to their advantage by “taking higher ground and exiting the rally if forced to do so.”

The Canadians First Rally is scheduled to take place at Alderney Landing from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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