Toronto's mayor is calling for the cancellation of a show by an American blogger who says rape should be legalized on private property.
John Tory said the statements made by Daryush Valizadeh — who goes by the name Roosh V. — amount to hate speech and "have no place in our city."
"While free speech is the law in this country, promoting violence against women is wrong," Tory tweeted Monday night. "I am calling on those hosting this tour to do the right thing — cancel this show."
Valizadeh defended himself and his words in a response to the mayor.
"Mr. Mayor, my speech doesn't promote violence, harassment, or hate against any group. You were lied to about me," he wrote.
The so-called pickup artist is set to speak in Toronto on Saturday — the last stop of a six-city tour.
His appearance in Montreal last weekend was met with protests and denounced by that city's mayor, Denis Coderre.
While Canada does have laws against hate speech, the legal bar for prosecution is high and requires some indication that the person intended to promote hatred of a particular group, said Wayne Sumner of the University of Toronto's Centre for Ethics.
"What the mayor is basically doing is condemning the views this guy holds, distancing himself from him," but he has no legal authority to shut down the event, Sumner said.
Public pressure has prompted organizers to call off shows in the past. The music festival NXNE cancelled a public performance by the rapper Action Bronson in June after a petition calling the artist's lyrics mysogynistic gained momentum.
One of Valizadeh's most controversial blog posts, published in February, argues that making rape legal in a private home would eliminate any ambiguity surrounding consent by forcing women to fend off unwanted sexual encounters.
"I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds," he wrote.
"Without daddy government to protect her, a girl would absolutely not enter a private room with a man she doesn't know or trust unless she is absolutely sure she is ready to sleep with him."
An older entry from 2013 lists 15 reasons why Toronto is "the worst city in North America for men."
Among them, according to Valizadeh, is the fact that women in the city prefer food to sex and have egos that vastly outstrip their attractiveness.
An online petition calling for Valizadeh to be barred from entering Canada drew more than 43,000 signatures.
The blogger seemed to relish the uproar, saying in a tweet that "40,000+ Canadians couldn't stop a lecture attended by only 34 men, even with media & govt help. Stunning humiliation."
The website for his tour also acknowledges the controversy and warns the location of each event will only be released a day in advance "due to the high risk of mob action by feminists and social justice warriors."
While many on social media hailed Tory for speaking out against Valizadeh, some said cancelling the show would undermine free speech.
"Freedom of speech isn't supposed to be comfortable. It only works if it includes those whose messages bother you," one wrote.