GuelphToday received the following letter about last week's protest and counter-protest.
While I was gratified that many local leaders and institutions stood in solidarity with Guelph’s LGBTQ2S+ communities during last week’s protests and counter-protests, I was appalled that the city and the Mayor of Guelph were not among them.
When pressed on this, Mayor Guthrie explained that he chose to remain silent to maintain the appearance of objectivity, on what he referred to as “both sides of this charged discussion”. Yet, even then, failing to mention what the marches and counter-protests were about. or to address Guelph’s LGBTQ2S+ folks and families.
Yet, he still implored us to be ‘kind’ and to ‘love’ each other.
I hear this routine from the mayor, all the time. In 2021, he said, “My desire … is that we are the most kind and patient and loving community in Canada.” In actual practice, invoking kindness is how the mayor avoids taking a principled stand and silences criticism, particularly if doing so would appear to be inconsistent with his personal and political values.
When Mayor Guthrie implores us to be ‘kind’, as he so often does, I think what he means is, ‘be polite’, or ‘be nice’.
Seemingly, being ‘kind’ also means not engaging with transphobia, or homophobia, or racism or ableism. Being ‘kind’ means staying silent when our families and friends are under attack. Being ‘kind’ means condemning hate and violence in other parts of the world – sure – but let’s give hate the benefit of the doubt when it’s politically useful and literally marching down our streets.
Kindness without justice isn't kind. Good intentions are nothing without reflection or meaningful change. The city and the mayor’s absentee, unprincipled leadership, at a time, when so many people in Guelph needed visible support, was not kind. It was a cynical political calculation, or sheer negligence. I haven’t decided which is worse.
“Hate has no home here?” I’m not convinced. Hate moves in quickly when the door is left wide open, the lights are off, and nobody answers when it comes knocking.
If the city and the mayor will not lead by example, by all means, step aside. We can and will do better.