A B.C. tribunal has ordered a Vancouver pub to refund a free speech club event deposit after the management ejected members for alleged anti-Semitic and homophobic behaviour.
The club’s president testified he found the pub’s claims curious as he is both Jewish and homosexual.
The B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal Oct. 8 ordered the Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House to refund $315 to The Free Speech Club Ltd. The group had booked a Sept. 6, 2019 event at the pub but were asked to leave.
“The pub argues that the club’s members made Nazi salutes, and anti-Jewish and homophobic statements, which upset staff and guests and led to staff asking club members to leave,” tribunal chair Shannon Salter said in the decision. “The pub argues that it does not have to refund the deposit, as the pub lost revenue and staff tips totalling approximately $750 when it was forced to shut down the event.”
The club president, identified as NA in the decision, said in a statement to the tribunal he has had a “lifelong relationship with Judaism, including attending religious services regularly, attending Jewish day school and summer camps and consistently advocating on behalf of Jewish issues.
Slater said the statement noted ‘his extensive love, dedication and attachment towards his Jewish community, many of whom are Holocaust survivors.’
“He states, and I accept, that he felt disgusted to have the pub’s accusations levelled against his club,” Salter wrote.
Salter said NA’s statement was backed up by those of two rabbis, the president of the Federation of Teachers in Hebrew Schools in Toronto, the former executive director of Hillel BC, the chief editor of a national Jewish online news platform and several of his friends
“I find it is unlikely that as club president he would have tolerated anti-Semitic or homophobic statements or gestures at the event,” Salter ruled. “I find the pub has not proved its allegations in this regard.”
Salter said the pub also argued also argues its contract was with club executive director Angelo Isidorou in his personal capacity, and not the club.
Therefore, the pub argued, it should not have to refund the deposit.
Salter agreed Isidorou made the booking on behalf of the club.
“It is undisputed that Mr. Isidorou paid the $315 as a deposit, and that club guests were to pay their bills separately, with a $500 minimum spend,” Salter said.
And, Salter noted, a 30-second audio recording showed a staff member said a refund would be issued immediately.