A small group of protesters are blaming Vancouver-area traffic jams on immigration.
About half a dozen men stood on the Blundell overpass in Richmond on Wednesday morning and held up a bright yellow banner above Highway 99 that read "Fight Gridlock: Cut Immigration."
"More people, more cars,” Dan Murray, one of the protesters and a spokesman for Immigration Watch Canada (IWC), told the Richmond News. "Every two people who come in as immigrants bring another car onto the road. That’s how it works."
RCMP received several complaints about the demonstration.
"We were shocked and offended. It was just such a transparent attempt to play off peoples’ frustrations about traffic to stir up resentment against the immigrant population," Eron Main told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email.
Main spotted the banner as he was driving his wife to work and his kids to daycare. On his way back, he decided to stop and investigate because the sign did not identify who was behind the protest.
"I felt very strongly that their message was negative, that it was bad for the community, and that it didn't reflect my values or the values of this community. I wanted to know who these people were," explained Main, who lives in nearby Ladner.
In a video that Main uploaded to YouTube, he introduces himself to the men, but they refuse to disclose who they are, or what group they're with.
"I am sure they want people to think that this banner protest is a spontaneous outcry from the community, when it is really just a few grumpy, intolerant bigots," said Main. "They don’t want to give their names, because that would show how limited their support really is."
However, they seem willing to speak to the media. Murray told the Richmond News that IWC wants Canada to slash the number of immigrants accepted into the country every year, because it's "causing all kinds of problems. One of which is traffic gridlock."
An inflammatory anti-immigration flyer distributed at York University this summer was signed by IWC, but Murray told HuffPost at the time that his group did not authorize it.
One of the other men holding the banner in Richmond appears to be Brad Saltzberg, who used to speak for Putting Canada First, a group that has criticized public signs for being in languages other than English and French.
Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, is a flashpoint for debate over Chinese language signage. More than 60 per cent of the city's 200,000 residents are immigrants, the highest rate of any Canadian city.
Main said he publicized his encounter with the protesters this week to make a point.
"What I hoped to achieve by confronting these men and posting my video was to show that viewpoint — the viewpoint of the tolerant majority," he explained.
"I hope to encourage people not to just shake their heads silently the next time they see bigotry in action, but to speak out against it."
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