Vancouver officials say they will not block a city theatre rental for a man accused of making anti-Semitic statements in his conspiracy theories because there is no indication he will include hate speech in his talk.
David Icke's appearance at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday has raised concerns from B'nai Brith Canada, which says Mr. Icke promotes conspiracy theories that "rely heavily on anti-Semitism."
The group made a presentation to the city's civic theatres board asking that his rental of the Orpheum be cancelled. The board agreed to that on Aug. 23, but city officials decided it should go ahead.
A statement from the city's communications department on Friday said the Canada Border Services Agency had admitted Mr. Icke to Canada to make his speech and that "the city is not in a position to take action intended to censor speech that is otherwise permissible under Canadian law."
The website for Mr. Icke's "world tour" and visit to Vancouver says he is coming to alert people to "plans for a Third World War that will result in a singular force which will rule over all of humanity on planet earth." He calls that force a "global fascist state."
In his many publications and speeches, he has talked about that force as an army of shape-shifting lizards that has included many U.S. presidents and members of the British Royal Family.
Mr. Icke, a former sports broadcaster from Britain who began publishing his New Age conspiracy theories in the 1990s, has frequently been accused of anti-Semitism because of his endorsement of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an early 20th-century document that claimed to describe Jewish plans for world domination, and his Holocaust denial.
Aidan Fishman, a Toronto spokesman for B'nai Brith, said this is not just a free-speech issue. He said that if Mr. Icke repeats some of his past statements, he will be in violation of B.C.'s human-rights code. "That makes it illegal to expose a class of persons to hatred or contempt."
As well, he said, Mr. Icke has been praised by right-wing groups for "guiding" people – many of whom subscribed to more innocuous conspiracy theories – to anti-Semitic ideas.
Mr. Icke did not respond to a request for an interview made through his website, but he told a Vancouver media outlet that his day-long talk will not mention Jewish people.
The city's statement said it has "confirmed with Mr. Icke and his team their obligation to comply with all Canadian laws."
It said the civic-theatres board suggested cancelling the event because of concerns about potential violence. But Vancouver police told city staff that they did not see any likelihood of that.
Tickets for Mr. Icke's performance are selling for $60 to $100. As of Friday afternoon, more than half appeared to be unsold.
Two venues in Toronto originally allowed bookings from Mr. Icke but then cancelled them. He ended up speaking elsewhere in the city last month.