VICTORY: Meghan Murphy speaking event to proceed

UPDATE: TDF was successful in securing Meghan Murphy's free speech rights, as the Community Centre authorities agreed to allow the feminist author to hold the speaking event.

TORONTO: After several discussions with The Democracy Fund (TDF) lawyers, the CVRD has agreed to allow Ms. Murphy to hold her speaking event on June 8, 2024.

Mark Joseph, senior litigation counsel, said: "Public, government-run speaking venues should, by default, be made available to any adult Canadian for debate and discussion on various topics - controversial or not. To "cancel" speakers when confronted by opposition is to grant a heckler's veto. This behaviour will end when authorities refuse to countenance it. We're glad the CVRD did the right thing here."

Ms. Murphy had this to say about her victory: "We are thrilled that the Cowichan Community Centre has revised its decision and allowed us to host our event with them. This conversation is one the community desperately wants and needs. We are aware of the heavy pressure that comes from activists who attempt to stop these kinds of events and conversations from happening at every turn, but our hope is that community members who are interested, invested, and even in disagreement with our views will come out and participate in the discussion. This is not a hateful or dangerous conversation, but it is a very important issue. The impact of gender identity ideology and policy on women, kids, families, and Canadian citizens is very serious. We live in a democracy and we have the right to speak and be heard about issues that impact us and our communities. We are incredibly grateful for the support of our legal team at The Democracy Fund in supporting our fight for free speech and our constitutional rights and are grateful that the Cowichan Community Centre thought through their initial decision and changed their mind. We look forward to a fruitful and galvanizing event on Saturday, June 8th!"

Chris Shaw, the event co-organizer and professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UBC, also stated: "We thank the Democracy Fund for their help making the event possible and for the CVRD for realizing that respectful discourse is the only way to bridge the divide on crucial social issues. This is a win for freedom of speech that benefits us all."

In October 2023, Meghan Murphy's proposed public discussion on inclusivity and women's rights at the Cowichan Community Centre was cancelled, resulting in a legal letter, policy changes, and plans for a new event in 2024.

Ms. Murphy's talk intended to focus on gender theory, social identity and their impact on women and children in public spaces. However, after initially agreeing to hold the event, the authority in charge of booking the event - the Cowichan Valley Regional District - reversed its decision and denied the booking.

After a legal letter from TDF, CVRD agreed to revise its booking policies and sought input from Ms. Murphy and her legal team to ensure fair treatment when booking events. CVRD is in the process of revising its booking policies.

Ms. Murphy is scheduling a new event for the summer of 2024, entitled "Vancouver Island Speaks: Gender Inclusivity, women's Rights, and Safeguarding Kids."

She has travelled across North America to hold public talks about these issues and is committed to her rights to do so: "Politicians have ignored our concerns for far too long, so we've had to take this into our own hands. The fact that community members are denied the opportunity to have not only reasonable but necessary discussions about women's rights and kids' safety is unacceptable. We are not engaging in hate speech; we are not hateful, we are concerned about the safety of vulnerable community members and about our free speech rights."

Ms. Murphy and TDF are optimistic that the CVRD will fairly apply its new guidelines so that she can book the facility. TDF is committed to upholding the free speech rights of Canadians even - especially - where proposed speech is controversial. All adult citizens in a liberal democracy are intellectually, legally and morally capable of choosing for themselves the discussions they want to have and books they wish to read. Accordingly, TDF remains ready to respond if Ms. Murphy is prevented from holding her event.

To support Ms. Murphy and TDF's work in upholding free speech, please consider making a tax-deductible donation on this page.

About The Democracy Fund:
Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education, and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education and supports access to justice initiatives for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.

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