TUPOC demands apology and claims right to be in old church

“You didn’t sit and talk with us. We didn’t have a conversation. All we want to do is serve the community.”

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The United People of Canada tried once again to explain their presence at St. Brigid’s Church in a rambling Saturday afternoon press conference that was streamed live on Facebook and continuously disrupted by hecklers.

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Addressing a gathering of about 30 people at the desecrated Catholic church, TUPOC’s Diane Nolan claimed an eviction notice served last week was not valid, and she said the group deserved apologies for the way it had been characterized.

“I called this press conference because I really believe we deserve an apology,” said Nolan, one of TUPOC’s directors. “We deserve an apology for what was said by the mayor, what was said by Sylvie Bigras (president of the Lowertown Community Association) and (municipal councilor) Mathieu Fleury.

All three have been critical of TUPOC and its “embassy” plans at St. Brigid’s, with Mayor Jim Watson describing the group as “a bit crazy” in a radio interview.

“You didn’t sit and talk with us,” Nolan said. “We didn’t have a conversation. All we want to do is serve the community.

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William Komer, right, director of the United People of Canada, speaks to a counter-protester at Saturday's press conference.
William Komer, right, director of the United People of Canada, speaks to a counter-protester at Saturday’s press conference. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

St. Brigid landlord hired Cease Bailiff Services to evict TUPOC supporters, claiming the group owes $10,000 in rent, failed to provide proof of liability insurance and carried out unauthorized construction work in the heritage building. Nolan denied those allegations on Saturday and appeared to imply that the group was struggling to raise funds because of the bad publicity.

“The truth is that people want to donate to an organization they believe in, but the corrupt government right now is scaring people so much. There are a lot of misconceptions about that,” she said. declared.

During his hour-long Q&A, Nolan said TUPOC is driven by love for its neighbors and a love for the world. Although Nolan said she helped during the Freedom Convoy’s occupation of downtown Ottawa last winter, she said the problems went beyond the convoy.

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Erica Lackey, left, attended Saturday's press conference to address her issues with her new neighbors the United People of Canada.
Erica Lackey, left, attended Saturday’s press conference to address her issues with her new neighbors the United People of Canada. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

“We’re here to address some issues that have been around since long before the convoy,” Nolan said. “You don’t need 100,000 people to tell you there are problems in this country.”

“It’s not convoy propaganda,” she replied to one of the hecklers at the back of the church. “Not everyone here is part of the convoy. You are not going to rank us!

Nolan said she previously did street ministry among the homeless in Ottawa and tasked her speech with talking about God and Christian credentials. She called the rent dispute a “Red Sea moment,” meaning a difficult situation that will be resolved with God’s intervention, and referred to the “seven mountains.”

The Seven Mountain Mandate is a US-based conservative evangelical movement that seeks to affirm Christian influence in seven aspects of life: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government.

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The United People of Canada (TUPOC) held its press conference Saturday at the former St. Brigid's Church.
The United People of Canada (TUPOC) held its press conference Saturday at the former St. Brigid’s Church. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

A nearby resident, who said she went to church on Saturday “to be a fly on the wall,” said she was accosted by a TUPOC member for carrying a Pride Canada flag. “She told me to take my Pride flag and go home,” said the woman, Heather, who did not give her last name. Although other TUPOC members told her she was welcome with her flag, Heather said the initial hostility embittered her and she was suspicious of TUPOC.

“It seems like it’s all smoke and mirrors,” she said. “They’re not very good at articulating their message. They say they’re not part of the “Freedom Convoy”, but they can’t explain why so many cars in their parking lot have “Freedom Convoy” messages on them.

Rob Day attended Saturday's press conference to ask questions and voice his opinion on the unanswered questions during the event.
Rob Day attended Saturday’s press conference to ask questions and voice his opinion on the unanswered questions during the event. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

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Barry F. Howard