North Cowichan Council, led by Councillors Istace, Toporowski, and Justice, with Mayor Douglas as the tie-breaker, rejected the tax exemption for The House of Grace pregnancy center.
While generously granting tax breaks to multimillion-dollar NGOs like Nature Trust and Ducks Unlimited, the council rejected a tax exemption for a small, community-minded group providing free support to women facing unexpected pregnancies in the Valley.
When the initial application was made cancel culture made its appearance. Two women, armed with speeches rife with lies and hyperbole, spoke against the House of Grace during the agenda discussion. A few letters to the council sealed the House of Grace’s fate. However, amidst the chaos, Councillors Manhas, Caljouw, and Findlay went beyond hearsay; they visited the center and conducted their own research to uncover the truth.
This denial appeared to be an attack on faith-based programs. In a curious coincidence, Camp Qwanoes, a community staple since the ‘70s, faced a similar fate in the same meeting. Counc. Findlay defended the camp against “mud-slinging,” but Councillor Istace hinted that perhaps a little mud was deserved.
Why the initial denial? Rumours and false slander spread like wildfire, involving disinformation about Camp Qwanoes’ stance on the LGBTQ+ community and hearsay that House of Grace opposes abortions.
The Council meeting on September 26th witnessed a packed room, with the majority supporting the House of Grace and Camp Quanoes. Both organizations had the chance to counter misinformation through separate delegations. Camp Quanoes presented a compelling case that even changed Councillor Caljouw’s mind about the (anti) LGBTQ+ myth.
House of Grace followed suit with a heartfelt presentation detailing its services, from post-abortion counselling to support for women choosing to keep their babies. They systematically debunked each piece of disinformation presented by the opposing women.
During the public speaking segment, supporters spoke for the camp, and two women repeated generalizations and misinformation about the House of Grace. COAP spoke on behalf of both organizations.
For those interested, the entire meeting is available on COAP’s YouTube page via @coapinc or NorthCowichan.ca by viewing the September 26th minutes and agenda.
Camp Quanoes eventually regained its tax exemption, but the House of Grace fell short when Mayor Douglas cast the tie-breaking “nay” vote. It’s disheartening that the four “nay” votes didn’t take the time to explore this oasis for women, instead relying on hearsay.
Hopefully, the pendulum of cancel culture swings back soon, prompting those engaged in such behaviour to recognize the harm they inflict on fellow community members.