November 20, 2018

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Belgian Club board member resigns amid controversy over planned Canadian Nationalist Party event

A Belgian Club of Winnipeg board member has resigned after the venue drew public criticism in the wake of a planned Canadian Nationalist Party meeting.

After only three or four people, including the organizer, showed up for the gathering Saturday at the Provencher Boulevard venue, about a half-dozen protesters arrived and the two groups began arguing.

The rally was organized by Canadian Nationalist Party Leader Travis Patron as the last stop in a Western Canada tour meant to drum up support for the unregistered political party that advocates for reduced immigration and the deportation of refugees who cross the border irregularly, according to posts on its website.

In the aftermath, in a video circulated on social media, the volunteer board member can be heard saying she doesn’t know what white nationalism is, nor does she care because the group booked the venue privately.

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A Belgian Club of Winnipeg board member has resigned after the venue drew public criticism in the wake of a planned Canadian Nationalist Party meeting.

After only three or four people, including the organizer, showed up for the gathering Saturday at the Provencher Boulevard venue, about a half-dozen protesters arrived and the two groups began arguing.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>The Belgian Club disavowed the event.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Belgian Club disavowed the event.

The rally was organized by Canadian Nationalist Party Leader Travis Patron as the last stop in a Western Canada tour meant to drum up support for the unregistered political party that advocates for reduced immigration and the deportation of refugees who cross the border irregularly, according to posts on its website.

In the aftermath, in a video circulated on social media, the volunteer board member can be heard saying she doesn’t know what white nationalism is, nor does she care because the group booked the venue privately.

She then goes on to comment about visible minorities being given preferential treatment for jobs.

"I recently lost my job after 15 years and any job that you apply for, guess what, you have to be a visible minority," she said in the video.

The Belgian Club posted a statement on its website Sunday, disavowing the event and announcing the departure of the unnamed board member.

"Regrettably, during the ensuing protest yesterday, one of our board members expressed her personal views that do not represent the history, heritage or values of the Belgium Club," the statement reads.

"She has voluntarily resigned from her volunteer positions at the club and Belgian Pavilion.

"The Belgium Club is filled with members whose fathers and grandfathers fought and died in both the First and Second World Wars fighting against fascism and the Nazis to defend democracy and human rights both abroad and here in our own country."

The club also said it is reviewing its booking policies.

During the confrontation Saturday, the protesters accused organizers of advocating white nationalism, which they denied.

"Clearly, we’re not a Nazi party," Patron said in video of the event posted online.

One protestor retorted: "Then why is your (Facebook) friends list every Nazi in Canada?"

According to the Canadian Nationalist Party, it’s not white nationalist nor white supremacist and is open to Canadians of all backgrounds.

The party said its Winnipeg event was a success and the protesters were removed by Winnipeg police.

The Winnipeg Police Service confirmed Monday officers attended the scene at 407 Provencher Blvd., but said no one was arrested.

In the statement, the Canadian Nationalist Party said it’s "exploring legal avenues" on how to address local media coverage of the event, calling it defamatory.

Further, it said it’s filing a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

erik.pindera@freepress.mb.ca

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