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Legion denies Glen Carritt venue for forum

Innisfail mayoral candidate wanted forum for featured speakers Dr. Roger Hodkinson and Marcel Latouche
MVP Carritt legion
The Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion will not allow mayoral candidate Glen Carritt to host a town hall at its venue on Aug. 16. The event had planned to feature two controversial speakers. Social media event illustration

INNISFAIL – Following several public complaints, the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion said it will not allow mayoral candidate Glen Carritt to host a town hall meeting featuring two controversial speakers.

However, Carritt, who countered the legion decision in a long and emotionally charged online video on Aug. 8, said the decision was based on a lack of information about the speakers – Dr. Roger Hodkinson and Marcel Latouche, and is demanding an apology from either the legion’s provincial or national command.

Carritt said he has now changed the location of his town hall, which will be held during the evening of Aug. 16 at Innisfail’s Fireside Restaurant with the same speakers. Hodkinson is a nationally known physician with controversial views on the government handling of the COVID-19 pandemic while Latouche is the head of the Institute for Public Sector Accountability.

“I am not very happy with the legion. This to me is very disturbing,” said Carritt in his video, emphasizing Canadian veterans went to war to fight for all freedoms for all Canadians. “You as a legion are taking that away from a mayoral candidate, and I am being discriminated by the legion for not being able to have my voice and my speakers’ voices to move forward.

“I want an apology for you trying to take my voice away, and I am fine if you can admit that. But what you did in my opinion was wrong to discriminate against my voice,” added Carritt. “It doesn’t make sense to me. I am very hurt by the decision that they made and very disappointed.”

However, Chris Pickard, manager of the legion, said the decision was made following complaints from several citizens at large and by at least one legion member.

“He had booked it under the pretense that it was part of his mayoral platform. No big deal. We are totally all about that. No big deal. That’s cool. We are helping him out and then we started getting complaints,” said Pickard, adding the legion then started some “digging” about the event and the planned speakers.

“Turns out he had two keynote speakers coming in on (August) 16, and it didn’t seem to have anything to do with his mayoral platform,” added Pickard. “It's more of an anti-vax, anti-government sort of you know, angry rally, at which point, we had to look at, ‘does that contravene our bylaws?”

He said a call was made to provincial command and it was decided the legion would not allow the event to proceed at its Innisfail venue.

 “It has always been made very clear that we do not support anything that is anti-government, anti-establishment," said Pickard. "We fully support our community, our government, the established order. That is what the legion is about.”

He said no agreement was signed between Carritt and legion.

“There was nothing signed, no,” said Pickard. “We hope it all turns out for the better, but at the same time we have to stand our ground on certain issues."

Meanwhile, Carritt told his supporters in Sunday’s online message that despite his disappointment over the legion’s decision, he still wants the public to continue and honour the institution.

 “We have a great legion in Innisfail. We have great people that work there, and it’s a great facility,” he said in his video. “By no means am I ever going to say, ‘don’t support the legion.’ We need to support the legion but what needs to happen is that I need a sit-down meeting and we need to write letters to the head of command and say, ‘what you did was wrong. We want an apology.”

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