Border guards to turn away church group aiming to picket bus victim's funeral
Canadian border guards are under orders to prevent members of a fundamentalist American church from crossing into Canada to protest at the funeral Saturday of a Winnipeg man brutally killed on a Greyhound bus last week.
Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial Kansas-based sect, intends to picket the funeral of 22-year-old Tim McLean to tell Canadians his slaying on July 30 was God's response to Canadian policies enabling abortion, homosexuality and adultery.
"God is punishing Canada for passing laws against WBC — by exposing Canadians as cannibals and highway decapitaters," the church says in a news release on its website, which refers to McLean as "The Headless Canadian."
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day's office sent an alert to border patrol to "look out" for people with signs and pamphlets consistent with the messages that the church promotes and to keep them out of the country, Winnipeg MP Pat Martin told CBC News on Friday.
"Entering Canada by a U.S. citizen isn't an absolute right, and if you're coming here only to disrupt the social order and to promote what we consider to be bordering on hate crimes or hate language, they shouldn't come into Canada," Martin said.
"We're not going to allow these people to compound the tragedy of the McLean family loss, and Canadians simply won't tolerate these lunatics disrupting what should be a respectful service."
Freedom of speech is not absolute, Martin said.
"Your freedom to swing your arm in the air ends when it touches the end of my nose," he said. "What these people were going to do was hurtful, harmful and disruptive to the peace, order and good government that we guarantee to our citizens, so they have no place in this country."
A counter-protest against the church's picket plans was launched on the social networking site Facebook on Thursday. More than 500 people have since joined the group; postings indicate they plan to form a "human wall" around the family to shield them from the church protest, if it takes place.
The Westboro Baptist Church and its founder, Pastor Fred Phelps, gained infamy by protesting gay-pride rallies and the funerals of people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
In recent years, church members have also picketed the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming the deaths are also God's punishment for the country's tolerance for homosexuality.
Personally I think they should have let them in, the last time they came up here the police were conveniently late to arrive to protect them and several were beaten up by pissed off citizens.
Click to view image: '211005-fred_phelps.jpg'
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