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Calgary's Safe and Inclusive Access bylaw met with constitutional challenge

Derek Reimer, a street church pastor, was removed after disrupting a family-friendly Reading with Royalty event at the Seton Library event on Feb. 25. (Facebook/Ray Friesen) Derek Reimer, a street church pastor, was removed after disrupting a family-friendly Reading with Royalty event at the Seton Library event on Feb. 25. (Facebook/Ray Friesen)
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The Canadian Constitution Foundation has filed a constitutional challenge against Calgary's Safe and Inclusive Access bylaw.

The constitutional challenge was filed in May, arguing the bylaw is an infringement of the right to free expression.

Council passed the bylaw this past March.

According to the City of Calgary website, the bylaw states certain protests "are not allowed within 100 metres of an entrance to a recreation facility or library."

Types of prohibited protests include "those objecting to an idea or action related to human rights," such as "religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation."

The city says the bylaw is meant to "ensure all Calgarians can equally enjoy the benefits and resources offered at or through public facilities."

But the foundation believes that's a slippery slope.

"The CCF's concerns about the bylaw are about the right to free speech being content-neutral, not about any one particular issue," the foundation told CTV Calgary on Tuesday when asked for a statement.

"We are not working with or representing any individual protesters. There is a constitutionally protected right to peaceful assembly and expression, and it is not for the government to pick and choose which topics are permissible for protest.

"The bylaw has the potential to chill all kinds of speech, well beyond the type of speech that was the impetus for this bylaw."

Calgary's Safe and Inclusive Access bylaw came about in response to the numerous anti-drag protests targeting Drag Queen story hours.

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