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Small gathering sing, talk and share strawberries at anti-fascist rally

Roughly 30 people showed up outside city hall for a rally in response to a visit by People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier

It was a small gathering that collected outside Guelph City Hall Friday night for a planned anti-fascist rally.

A small megaphone was passed around, a song was sung and apples, strawberries and snow peas were shared with children who had been gathering in anticipation of a nearby Wilson Street-showing of the 2016 Walt Disney Classic Zootopia.

The event was in response to a visit to the city by People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, who was speaking at a secret location in another part of the city.

GuelphToday did not cover that event after organizers imposed a restriction on reporting on where the event took place.

Outside city hall, four police officers stood idly nearby and a handful of City of Guelph security personnel ell chatted and helped clear cars in anticipation of the children's movie.

The rally, which drew roughly 30 people at its peak and lasted 45 minutes, was organized by a number of people, including the  Revolutionary Communist Party - Guelph, which was previously accused of organizing a potentially violent protest for the Bernier visit and of making threats, to organizers.

Originally planned for the Guelph Youth Music Centre, the booking was cancelled amidst the protest plans so organizers moved it to Friday's secret location.

Other than some harsh words for Bernier, the anti-fascism rally downtown was a decidedly civil affair.

"We're working toward a community where everybody feels safe and welcome here, I think that's very important," said Kate. "Certainly the presence of the People's Party of Canada made people very uncomfortable here.

"Terms (Bernier) uses like 'extreme multiculturalism' is extremely dangerous. I think that kind of language needs to be stopped. Everybody who is not Indigenous is an immigrant here," said Kate.

"I want to make it very clearly, publicly, that no threats were made to Maxime Bernier at all," Kate added.

"They were scared of a poster with a swastika being stabbed. To me that speaks volumes about what they are and what their ideologies are."

Speakers used only first names. Online security and harassment was cited.

They cited several Bernier comments on the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, online "harassment" of a drag queen as some of the reasons they protest Bernier's visit to Guelph.

"We don't need that kind of thing in this city," said Xico in reference to Bernier's statements on those issues.

Lilly said the group did a "good thing" by making Bernier's visit "go underground."

"We need to be prepared to be against them. They will be violent toward us and we need to be organized and safe and stay as a community as much as we possibly can because that's where we're going to make a difference - when we're able to connect in person and together and stand strong," Lilly said.