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Vancouver Library updates its regulations, claims it will not restrict freedom of expression
British Columbia

Vancouver Library updates its regulations, claims it will not restrict freedom of expression 

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The room and facility booking policy at the Vancouver Public Library has been modified, as of a September 25 amendment, at a library board meeting. 

The policy has expanded its regulations, stating that “in keeping with its value of intellectual freedom, the Library will not restrict freedom of expression beyond the limits prescribed by Canadian law.”

The new booking guidelines come after a decision, made by the library in January of this year, to allow feminist activist Meghan Murphy to speak, which resulted in protests by trans advocates. 

Murphy is known for her gender-critical views on transgender issues and founded the Feminist Current, a feminist magazine. She even testified against Bill C-16, the gender identity bill to the Canadian Senate in 2017. Additionally, Murphy has been banned from Twitter due to what they called “misgendering.”  In reality, Murphy stood up to alleged predator Jessica Yaniv, and that was the reason for her ban.

Due to allowing Murphy to speak at the library, the entire entity of the Vancouver Public Library was not invited to the Vancouver Pride festivities this year.

It is unknown whether or not Murphy would have breached the newly updated policy, or if the library will be invited to pride festivities next year. 

According to CTV News, Christina de Castell, the chief librarian stated that “We felt the booking room policy needed to be updated to be clear about the language and how we balance values. The consciousness of discrimination of equity-seeking groups is changing in Canada, and we have decided to consult with the B.C. human rights commissioner to help us prevent discrimination.” 

The library now has a more standard scrutinization process in order for groups to book rooms and facilities within the library system. The scenario that the library would not allow for an event to go through would be if there is a contravention of the BC Human Rights Code or the Criminal Code of Canada. 

Most notably, Canada’s hate speech laws, section 318 (advocating or promoting genocide) and section 319 (public or willful promotion against an identifiable group), are mentioned in the criteria that would forbid a booking.  

Similarly in Toronto in 2017, their library board voted to update their room booking policy to ensure that events that would promote hatred against any identifiable group would not be allowed to use library space. 

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