Nova Scotia

Councillor raps use of hall by Occupy NS speaker

Occupy Nova Scotia should not be allowed to use a community hall in Fall River, a regional councillor says.

Assault on free speech, critics say

A speaker for Occupy Nova Scotia should not be allowed to use a community hall in Fall River, a Halifax regional councillor says.

The board of the hall has allowed a discussion group to use the hall free of charge. The group invites speakers to discuss their varied areas of expertise.

However, in an email on Friday, Barry Dalrymple, councillor for  District 2 (Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank) and a member of the hall's board, said that while he has no trouble with most topics and speakers, he is completely opposed to the hall being used by Occupy Nova Scotia.

"I am also opposed to bringing them here and give them the idea of occupying our hall or property out here because they are looking," he wrote. "I know you are asking to meet with them in good faith and I will not get into it in an email, but there is no good faith here on their part. I am not willing to put our hall and our community in jeapordy [sic] on this."

John Percy, a member of the discussion group and CEO of the federal Green Party (Sackville-Eastern Shore), called Dalrymple's comments an affront to free speech.

"I was not aware that council members were given special warrants to curtail the right of assembly and speech (outside of the Grand Parade and Victoria Park of course)," Percy wrote on his blog on Saturday.

"Barry has every right as a private citizen to express his distaste and displeasure at free speech (irony taken), but when he speaks as a representative of the people and signs off as such, he would be wise to consider his words with greater care and attention."

Dalrymple said Sunday that in writing his email he was not acting as a councillor.

"The opening line states very plainly for anybody that can read that that message is as a member of a volunteer board," he said. "It's got absolutely nothing to do with the HRM, nothing to do with being a councillor. It's as a member of a volunteer board."

Dalrymple added that he does not think the board will allow someone from the Occupy NS membership to speak.

"I know informally from talking to the members of the board in no way shape or form are they interested in this being held in the hall," he said.

Didn't get permission

He said the discussion group did not obtain permission before engaging Occupy Nova Scotia at the hall.

"Nobody even asked if the hall could be used for this purpose or anything else, so when the invitation was sent out to the group I very plainly told them as a member of the board I thought it was very inappropriate."

Dalrymple also said that once the board hears that his email was posted on the internet, the discussion group's use of the hall may be cut off.

Occupy Nova Scotia demonstrated in Halifax's Grand Parade square from Oct. 15 to Nov. 6, when they voluntarily moved to Victoria Park to make way for Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Halifax regional council decided in a private session to enforce the municipal parks bylaw. Demonstrators were ordered out of the park on Remembrance Day at about noon, and 14 people were arrested by 4 p.m.