The CEO of Saskatoon’s public library system says the cancellation of a planned campaign event at the Alice Turner Branch wasn’t motivated by politics.
Saskatoon-University MP and Conservative leadership hopeful Brad Trost had accused the library of “shutting down opposing opinions” after he was told the library wouldn’t host his Saturday event.
Saskatoon Public Library CEO Carol Cooley said in a statement Friday morning the cancellation was due to concerns over safety and security.
She said protesters planned to enter the library to disrupt Trost’s event, which was billed as a discussion of “pro-life” values.
“The Alice Turner Branch is also not equipped to support large-scale public events that involve potential safety and security concerns,” she said.
Trost disputed the notion that security was a concern, saying his team could’ve provided personnel.
“They would have called us,” he told 650 CKOM. “The fact that they didn’t means this is a farce and this is pure politics being played by the library.”
Vague event description
However, Cooley said in the statement the library was also kept in the dark by Trost’s team.
When the space was booked, a staffer for the MP described the event as a “day of reflection” and under organizational affiliation, they put “none.”
In fact, the library was informed about the campaign-centred and pro-life theme by the pro-choice protesters who planned to disrupt it.
Cooley said they initially told the protesters the event would go forward as the library supports free speech, “regardless of the personal opinions of any SPL Board or staff member.”SPL Board or staff member.”
It wasn’t until they learned of the protesters’ plan to enter the library that the event was cancelled.
Cooley did say the library regrets the way they informed Trost’s campaign of the decision to not host the event.
Staff had been told the cancellation was due to the “controversial nature” of the meeting.
“We were merely attempting to convey the concern we had over those who opposed Mr. Trost promising to create what could be an unmanageable situation,” she said.
Trost said the wrong people are paying for the library’s concerns.
“It wasn’t us that caused the security [problem],” he said. “So why are we the ones being punished?”
Cooley said the library is helping Trost by posting the new details of the event on the Alice Turner Branch door.
The event is now being held at the Sandman Hotel on Saturday at 12 p.m.