Canada’s first Chick-fil-A opens to protests over owner’s record on gay issues

Demonstrators point to company funding anti-LGBTQ programs and CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage

In this Oct. 30, 2018 file photo, Athens newest Chick-fil-A signage is set to open in downtown, Athens, Ga. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP

Dozens of protesters crowded a downtown Toronto sidewalk Friday to oppose the opening of the first franchised Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Canada over the chain owner’s record on LGBTQ issues.

The protesters say the company has funded anti-LGBTQ initiatives while company chairman and CEO Dan Cathy has voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“The fact that Chick-fil-A’s opening up on the streets of Toronto’s really problematic for us, given that we know the company promotes hate. It’s just unacceptable,” said Justin Khan, director of public interest and legal issues at The 519, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

He said the company gave US$1.8 million in 2017 alone to anti-LGBTQ groups, has given to conversion therapy groups, and is not welcome in Toronto.

“It’s more than just about chicken. It’s about realizing that the rhetoric of hate is entering our city.”

Wilson Yang, operator of the Chick-fil-A in Toronto, said in an emailed statement that everyone is welcome at the restaurant.

“We respect people’s right to share their opinions. Our focus is on offering a welcoming and respectful environment for our guests and team members, and we encourage people to give us a try.”

Eric Ramsay, who was waiting in the long line outside the restaurant, said he didn’t think the founder was promoting anything hateful.

“Everyone has the right to do as they want to do, and he’s not stopping that in any way,” he said.

RELATED: Chick-fil-A announces plans for Canadian expansion

The Atlanta, Ga.-based company has faced opposition in the U.S. as well, including San Antonio city council trying to stop a location from opening in the city and a New Jersey university blocking it from the campus.

Chick-fil-A says it doesn’t have a political or social agenda, and disputes the characterization of the 2017 donations. The company says it donated US$1.6 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for sports camps for inner-city youth, a group that is overtly against gay marriage, as well as US$150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has also been accused of discrimination.

The company previously opened a location at the Calgary International Airport that has since closed, but the company says the Toronto location is the first franchised restaurant in Canada. The company says the restaurant will be closed on Sundays, in line with its policy for U.S. restaurants.

Chick-fil-A announced last year that Toronto would be the site of its first international restaurant, with plans to open at least 15 restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area in next five years.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Priest Camp near Summerland was created in 1845

Agreement formed between Grand Chief Nicola (1793-1859) and Father Giovanni Nobili (1812-1856)

Princeton snow removal costs top $40k in December

Costs of snow removal to the Town of Princeton skyrocketed in December.… Continue reading

Province says it is monitoring AIM’s road maintenance

The provincial transportation ministry is working closely with new road contractor AIM,… Continue reading

Princeton – a Prince Town in waiting?

The Town of Princeton has been waiting 160 years for a Royal… Continue reading

RCMP release photos of man wanted in Princeton armed robbery

RCMP have released photos and a description of the man suspected of… Continue reading

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Kelowna’s Tess Critchlow gears up for World Cup at Big White

Critchlow is a professional snowboarder competing for Team Canada in the boardercross competition

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read