David Eby calls banners over B.C. highway ‘hateful’ and ‘reprehensible’

David Eby calls banners over B.C. highway 'hateful' and 'reprehensible'
B.C. Premier David Eby speaks during a news conference announcing the new Richmond Lions Manor-Fentiman care home, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

British Columbia Premier David Eby says “hateful” banners aimed at transgender people that have hung for months over one of the province’s highways are “reprehensible” and he wishes the protesters involved would “go home.”

The premier’s comments come more than a month after a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the government an injunction banning signs or gatherings in the area around the Mountain Highway Overpass over Highway 1 in North Vancouver.

The signs have included messages saying “gender ideology = child sex grooming” and “no child is ever born in the wrong body.”

Eby said he had concerns about safety as well as the nature of the protest.

“The content of the protest, obviously, it’s quite hateful. It’s really, in my opinion, seeking to divide British Columbia and to foment division and hatred in our province,” Eby said at an unrelated news conference on Thursday.

“I find it reprehensible and while I recognize the free speech rights of people to be out and to demonstrate, the content of the demonstration I find quite awful and I wish those people would certainly go home.”

RCMP said Wednesday they were seeking clarity from the Ministry of Transportation related to whether enforcing the injunction, granted on safety grounds, would mean infringing on protesters’ rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“If we enforce the injunction, we have to make sure that doing so will not infringe on the Charter rights of any individual,” Insp. Jayson Lucash, officer in charge of the North Vancouver RCMP, said in a statement.

“It is a complex assessment, but it’s ultimately aimed at upholding the integrity of judicial process, and maintaining public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

The Mounties said the sentiments behind the protests “do not align with the RCMP’s core values, and are contrary to the RCMP’s commitment to inclusivity in supporting our diverse community.”

In a statement issued Thursday, the Ministry of Transportation said the court order gave police the ability to arrest and remove anyone they think is contravening or has contravened the injunction.

The ministry said hanging banners from highway overpasses is not allowed under the Transportation Act.

“We continue to ask police to act on the injunction to provide for the safety of the travelling public,” the statement said.

Eby said the government went to court seeking the injunction because the location of the protest raised safety concerns for drivers along the highway and that a sign has fallen on at least one occasion.

“If nothing else, we need to ensure that the public is safe and that the demonstration doesn’t compromise public safety,” he said.

Banners at the same location have declared COVID-19 a “fraud” and carried abusive messages about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2023.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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