Some call for pause in donations to Food Bank of WR due to online controversy (update)

By CityNews Kitchener Staff

Editor’s note: The original story wrongly suggested that some people were calling out Julia Malott for advocating hate speech after she commented that the Ottawa parent should not have been cut off from speaking at the school board meeting.   The Ottawa school board did not identify the censored speech as hate speech, and that Julia Malott has not expressed support for hate speech. [CityNews apologizes to Ms. Malott for any misunderstanding with the initial story.]

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region has been caught in the middle of a disagreement which has triggered a fiery debate on social media.

The issue stems from the Food Bank of Waterloo Region Director Julia Malott, who was critical on Twitter of a recent decision to cut off of a delegation at an Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) meeting. 

In a tweet, Malott said “At OCDSB this week, a parent's delegation was abruptly ended when the chair declared their presentation created an unsafe environment for transgender individuals. Words are not unsafe. Ideas are not harmful. This isn’t about washrooms anymore. That’s no longer what we are talking about. That should be what we are talking about, but we can’t, because instead we have to talk about whether we can talk at all”. 

In response to her comments that had been tweeted, some were calling for a boycott of donations to the food bank.

Malott says the OCDSB chair made the wrong call. She said the online comments won't stop her from sharing her views.

“I don't think I could stop sharing because I'm not even sharing anything that is controversial. In the case here, what got people upset was I said that we should talk with people who we disagree with and we should allow dissenting opinions when establishing policy. If that's a controversial view then I don't have a lot of hope for this democracy at this point.”

She asks for open discussion about difference of opinions, and that the food bank does not get dragged into this debate.

“I would have hoped that [my views and my involvement with the food bank] wouldn't intersect. Unfortunately, cancel culture is alive and well. Right now, that is a technique that is being utilized when we don't like somebody's opinion and views on something. We go after that person, we go after the person's life, we go after the person's family.”

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region also provided an official statement to CityNews 570 on the matter:

“The Food Bank of Waterloo Region relies on the energy of our community so no one goes hungry. While we respect individual decisions to support causes they care about, The Food Bank is an essential resource for many in the area. We rely on the ongoing support of individuals, families and groups to help those facing hunger and food insecurity. Last year, 40,530 people accessed food assistance in Waterloo Region.

The Food Bank of Waterloo Region is governed by a diverse Board of Directors that represents members of the community we serve. Held accountable to our Code of Conduct, our directors provide perspectives that are important in shaping how we serve our community. We welcome viewpoints that challenge, engage and encourage support in Waterloo region from our neighbours for our neighbours.” 

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