The Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission is reviewing its policies around the participation of political parties in their Switch street party after the presence of the People’s Party of Canada drew backlash on Sunday.
This weekend’s event — billed as the “biggest street party of the summer” — was originally scheduled for June but was rained out. The celebration was rescheduled to August and with a federal election on the horizon, political parties were out in full force.
But it was the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) that sparked the controversy.
A booth by Michelle Lindsay, PPC candidate for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, quickly drew protesters — many of them upset with an anti-immigrant billboard that appeared last week in Halifax and other cities across Canada.
The ads feature a photo of party leader Maxime Bernier, the slogan “Say NO to mass immigration” and a call to vote for his party.
But the party has said that it has nothing to do with the ad, saying it was authorized by a third party that has since been identified as True North Strong and Free Advertising Corp. PPC Leader Maxime Bernier has said he agrees with the ad’s message.
On Monday, the company that owns the billboards, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, has pulled the third-party advertisements, saying they never meant to offend or alienate anyone and that the ads would come down.
On Sunday, protesters could be seen holding signs with slogans that read “The PPC is a hate group” and “Say no to hate in Nova Scotia” while others waved flags in front of Lindsay’s booth.
WATCH: Canadians respond to controversial anti-immigration billboard
The Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission now says it was a mistake “to permit the PPC to set up at Switch and we regret that their presence upset so many valued members of our community.”
“The PPC was permitted to set up based on the fact that they are a registered political party with Elections Canada,” the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission wrote, adding they will review whether political parties will be participating in Switch in the future.
A request for comment with Lindsay’s campaign was not immediately returned.