The federal NDP?is calling on organizers of a Toronto debate series?to cancel an event that is set to include U.S. President Donald Trump's former strategist Steve?Bannon.
The party said having?Bannon?participate in the Munk?Debates is inappropriate after the death of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue this past weekend.?
"I ask the?Munk?Foundation to cancel its invitation out of respect for the victims in?Pittsburgh," NDP?MP Charlie Angus told CBC?News, in French.?
"It isn't acceptable to give provocateurs like Mr.?Bannon?the opportunity to present their extreme views," he said.
An NDP spokesperson later confirmed Angus' views reflect those of the party.?
Bannon?is scheduled to debate conservative commentator?David?Frum on Friday evening at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall about "the rise of populism."
Bannon?will be arguing in favour of the resolution: "The future of Western politics is populist not liberal."?Frum?will argue against. The event was announced in early September.
Angus said?Bannon?"feed[s] divisions in our society," contributing?to a climate where Muslim and Jewish communities are being?attacked.
Fellow?NDP?MP Nathan Cullen would not say if he's against Bannon's?appearance, but noted it raises the difficult issue of protecting freedom of speech while mitigating the possible impact of harmful speech.?
"We've seen so tragically the effects of those in politics, in public discourse, when they spread hate that others pick up that language and turn it into?actions," Cullen said.
Critics have attacked?Bannon?for stoking racial divisions and advocating for far-right ideas, both inside the White House and during his time heading the?Breitbart?News Network.
Bannon?once described?Breitbart?as "the platform for the alt-right." But while admitting the website attracts racists, homophobes and anti-Semites, he has vowed he doesn't hold those views.
Despite the criticism, the organizers don't appear to be backing down.
Rudyard Griffiths, chair of the Munk Debates, sent a statement Tuesday morning saying the organization?looks forward to the event. He added that substantive debate?helps the public better understand society's challenges.
"For over a decade, the Munk Debates have provided a neutral public forum to discuss challenging issues and ideas. In this context, the rise of populist politics in western societies was an obvious topic to tackle at our upcoming debate," he wrote.
"We believe we are providing a public service by allowing their ideas to be vigorously contested and letting the public draw their own conclusions from the debate. In our increasingly polarized societies we often struggle to see across ideological and moral divides."
Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, who represents that area of Toronto, said he would have preferred if Bannon hadn't been invited, but added?it's not for politicians to decide who can speak at events.
Vaughan said offering?Bannon?a platform won't help people understand populism. Rather, it "inflames problems and exaggerates issues."
"He's intentionally provocative. We've seen that dangerous people don't need much provocation to do some pretty serious damage," said Vaughan.?"The attacks against religious institutions even in Toronto are intensifying."
Maxime Bernier, leader of the new People's Party of Canada, sided with freedom of?expression.
"It's part of our democracy," he said in French. "People who we don't share the same opinion are nonetheless welcome to have a debate."
Bernier said he doesn't share all of Bannon's ideas and that the timing of the event is not very good in light of the events in Pittsburgh.
The interim leader of the Bloc Québécois, Mario Beaulieu, said freedom of expression should be given precedence — though there should be no invitation to hatred or violence.