Citizens v. City of Nanimo

In May 2014, Nanaimo’s City Councillors voted (almost unanimously) to cancel the “Leadercast” video conference, that had been approved to take place in city-owned facilities, and which included many high-profile speakers (e.g. South African Bishop Desmond Tutu; former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush).  The City had entered into a binding legal contract for the use of its facilities for Leadercast, and many people had paid registrations fee to attend this event.  The Councillors were upset that one of this conference’s sponsors was the fast-food company Chick-fil-A, whose owner Dan Cathy is opposed to same-sex marriage.  Mr. Cathy’s stance was denounced by some Councillors as hateful, bigoted and even “criminal.”  The councillors then passed a motion declaring that city-owned facilities no longer be rented out to individuals or groups who are “hateful” because they disagree with same-sex marriage.  Nanaimo Councillor Jim Kipp went as far as to condemn “strong Christians,” comparing them to the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, responsible for kidnapping hundreds of Nigerian school girls and killing thousands of innocent civilians.  The event and the contract were cancelled on short notice, depriving those who had registered for Leadercast from participating in the event.

On June 23, 2014, JCCF president John Carpay joined Ezra Levant on Sun News Network’s The Source to challenge the City of Nanaimo for its shameful and intolerant decision.  There, John shared how the City’s decision violated the Charter and offered JCCF’s legal services to defend the Charter rights of Nanaimo residents. The legal and public pressure resulted in Nanaimo council repealing its motion on July 3, 2014, and apologizing to the organizers and residents who were offended by this action.

This matter was resolved without court action becoming necessary.