Collins no pushover in Saanich | Kevin Gillies

North Shore News | June 14, 1999

FORMER North Shore News columnist Doug Collins and his lawyer are petitioning Saanich council to protect the right to peaceful assembly following a melee at a local library over the weekend.

Collins was again the centre of a storm when protesters tried to block his entrance to the Nellie McClung Branch of the Saanich library for a fundraising meeting. He has launched a judicial appeal of a Human Rights Tribunal decision against him. Collins and lawyer Doug Christie, members of the Canadian Free Speech League, were meeting to explain Collins' current legal fight against the government and to raise defence money.

"There were about 30 of them I would say. They were a bunch of screaming lunatics, communists, Trotskyists, NDP and so on," said Collins Tuesday. "I pushed in and started punching a bit and they pushed back and shoved and ... I got through.

"These people are a threat, an absolute threat, to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly," Collins said.

Christie said he wrote to the Saanich police May 25 asking that they prevent such an incident, but they didn't show up until 30 minutes after they were called to the fracas.

"There was only one in uniform that was visible when that happened," Christie said. "He stood there and watched people (being) pushed around and did nothing. So now the mayor blames the police and says there's an investigation, an internal investigation."

Christie has written to Saanich council asking for a meeting to propose a bylaw that would ensure the right to peaceful assembly.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said meetings are booked by the Greater Victoria Library Board which is open to any group wanting a meeting.

"My own personal opinion is whether it was for Mr. Collins' event or even the protesters, I'd prefer that we didn't book those events ...."

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