Calgary business owner speaks out following customer’s racist tirade

Click to play video: 'Calgary business owner speaks out following hate-filled verbal attack' Calgary business owner speaks out following hate-filled verbal attack
WATCH: The owner of Great Meats Calgary is coming forward after receiving disturbing, racist messages from a customer. As Tracy Nagai reports, even though charges will not be laid, police said it’s important for people to continue to come forward – Jun 9, 2021

WARNING: This article contains profanity. Discretion is advised.

A Calgary business owner is coming forward after receiving a disturbing, hate-filled message from a customer.

“It was a double gut punch,” said Great Meats president Ky Ly. “I was very upset. She was so racist against our company.”

Great Meats is an online meat distributor born from the pandemic when restaurants were forced to shut down due to increasing health restrictions.

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“We’ve actually been in the food business since ’89 and opened an Asian grocery store in Chinatown in 1997,” Ly explained. “We carry Canadian beef and chicken as well as Alberta pork. We also deal with a lot of the national processors.”

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Ly said on May 29 he received both emails and voicemails from an upset customer who had made an order through Great Meats.

In the voicemails, provided to Global News, a woman states that she received a bill from Can Fung Oriental Food and is confused because she didn’t place an order with the company.

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The Great Meats website states the company is subsidiary of Can Fung Investments Ltd.

“We built Can Fung food service to distribute food to restaurants all across Calgary,” Ly said. “She thought she would be getting really bad meat from an Asian distributor.”

In the second voicemail the woman unleashes a racist tirade.

“I advised of a receipt needed and it came up ‘Can Fung Oriental Food.’ I am no longer interested ordering anything from your f**ing place,” she said.

“I want Canadian beef, not oriental bulls**t. If I wanted oriental, I’d order f**king dry garlic ribs and f**king wontons.”

While the messages are offensive, the Calgary Police Service (CPS) said it won’t be laying charges at this time.

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“Some of the challenges that the police service faces is that we accept racism is out there, but racism and a criminal offense are two different things,” said Senior Const. Craig Collins, who works as the CPS Hate Crime Coordinator.

Read more: What is a hate crime? Lawyers across Canada define the term

“The opinions expressed by the lady on the voicemail would be her opinions,” Collins said.

“Broadly, that would be covered by the protected right of freedom of expression and speech, although many of us would find that distasteful.”

Balfour Der, a former Crown prosecutor turned defence counsel, agrees that this specific incident would not meet the threshold of a crime.

“It’s rude and offensive but not criminal conduct,” Der said. “They’re making racist comments but beyond that, it’s just someone being ignorant.”

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However, Der is quick to point out that not all hate-motivated crimes go unpunished.

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“If this conversation had taken place on a public street, that is the crime of causing a disturbance in public, which is a crime under the Criminal Code.”

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“If that disturbance includes racial slurs, something that’s racially motivated, then the punishment (at sentencing) would be elevated.”

“We, as a society, are moving way past the time where you could get away with prejudice and being able to say hateful things.”

Collins said police continue to ask Calgarians to come forward and report these incidents even if they’re unsure a crime has been committed.

“As we look at other offences, or we start to see a pattern, we start to look at all of the cases that come forward,” Collins said. ” I think it’s important that our community understands that we do take things seriously.”

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Ly said the woman was told by police not to contact his company again and she has since apologized for her behaviour.

Ly hopes by telling his story others who have also faced racism in their lives will come forward.

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“We just want racism to stop because it creates hatred within people.”

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