AG blames B.C. Conservatives after SOGI protest tractor crash, IIO investigates

AG blames B.C. Conservatives after SOGI protest tractor crash, IIO investigates
B.C. Attorney General Niki Sharma pauses while responding to questions outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023.

The police watchdog is investigating a B.C. highway chase involving a tractor flying a protest banner against sexual orientation and gender identity programs in schools, something the province’s attorney general called a “fringe” and “hateful” issue inflamed by the B.C. Conservatives.

Surrey police said Sunday that one person was taken into custody after the tractor crashed with a cruiser and rolled on Highway 1.

Mounties said Monday the Independent Investigations Office was looking into whether police actions or inactions were responsible for the man’s injuries, which the RCMP said were not life-threatening.

RCMP said the person driving the tractor was possibly involved in a convoy protesting sexual orientation and gender identity programs being taught in public schools.

Attorney General Niki Sharma told reporters at the legislature on Monday that the incident was “very concerning,” and she accused B.C. Conservative Party Leader John Rustad of “stoking, fear, hatred and division” in the province.

Rustad meanwhile said in an email that parents are “right to raise concerns” about the program, known as SOGI 123, calling it “gender ideology.”

Social media videos show the tractor was flying a black banner saying “Stop SOGI 123.”

Rustad said his party wanted the education system “refocused on academics and leave the social issues for families.”

But Sharma said there had been a rise in “divisive and hateful politics” among people protesting about SOGI, saying they are “targeting children.”

“I want to call upon the leader of that party, John Rustad, to denounce the type of division and dangerous protests that we’re seeing and to leave children alone.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2023.

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