A vocal U.S. pro-family spokesman was detained by Canadian authorities April 10 as he arrived at the Regina, Saskatchewan International Airport for an address he was scheduled to give at a conference sponsored by the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association.
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and a thorn in the side of homosexual activists, who apparently alerted Canadian authorities to LaBarbera's itinerary and warned of his supposedly “hateful” attitudes and speech toward homosexuals.
LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews.com that when he arrived at the airport he was stopped by an agent with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), who presented him with a document stating that the Canadian government was concerned that he might be in the country to commit acts that could violate the country's criminal code. Section 319(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code prohibits “public incitement of hatred ... against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.”
According to reports, a makeshift Saskatchewan group calling itself “Intolerance Free Weyburn” had pressured Canada's government to deny LaBarbera entry because of his support for traditional marriage and pro-family values. That resulted in LaBarbera being detained by the CBSA agent at the Regina airport. LaBarbera recounted that the agent rifled through his luggage, examined his phone and laptop, and played a DVD of a speech he had given the day before in the United States. According to LaBarbera, after reviewing the Americans for Truth website, the agent said to him, “So you’re targeting an identifiable group of people based on sexual orientation.”
LaBarbera said the agent also asked him for details about his upcoming speech to the Canadian pro-life group, querying him on how much of his speech would cover the issue of homosexuality. Apparently the agent had no concern about the pro-life or anti-abortion content of LaBarbera's proposed talk. “The Orwellian experience at Customs dragged on for more than three hours,” LaBarbera recounted of his welcome to Canada. “Finally, after 1:00 a.m., I was released pending my appeal of the decision [April 11]. My passport was seized until I arrive back at Customs today at noon for my appeal before a ‘Minister’s Delegate Review.’”
With the help of conservative members of Canada's Parliament, that review resulted in LaBarbera being freed to continue with his trip, and to speak to the pro-life group. LifeSiteNews reported that “Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott was relieved by the decision at the hearing. ‘Kudos to border services,’ he told LifeSiteNews. He said the exemptions for religious belief in Section 319 of the Criminal Code, which covers ‘hate propaganda,’ were found to cover LaBarbera’s communications. The section, he said, ‘is not to be used for those who in good faith are speaking truth into a situation.’”
Nonetheless, the situation prompted Marci Millette, president of Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association, to express her shame at her nation's response. “Are these tyrants going to detain Christian priests and pastors next?” she said in a statement. “They preach the same Gospel messages.” She added that LaBarbera “is a leading defender of ‘real’ marriage. He exposes those who would have marriage redefined to mean whatever they want it to mean, to the detriment of the child. He is a perfect choice for our conference.”
Millette said that homosexual activists in Canada “are trying to shut down our rights to free speech and freedom of association, rights guaranteed by the Charter. While they demand ‘tolerance’ for themselves and push ‘diversity’ and ‘acceptance,’ they deny these to everyone who does not think like they think. It’s absolutely bizarre.”
According to a report by the Canada's government-sponsored CBC news agency, LaBarbera referred to those who targeted him as “Canadian Homo-Marxists,” and insisted that there is nothing hateful in his pro-family message. “We disagree with homosexual activism,” the CBC quoted him as saying. “We believe homosexual behaviour is immoral, but that doesn't equate with hating people.”