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

Majestic takes one year production hiatus

Bashaw theatre to focus on volunteering, collaborating and more music

Stettler County awaits Summer Village responses on possible amendment to Buffalo Lake development plan

Amendment could allow for more lots at the controversial Buffalo Lake RV Resort

Atom Stars play it even in home tournament

Bashaw doesn’t make the final after finishing at 2-2

Flush truck partnership updated

Agreement between Bashaw and two other municipalities renewed

Rail disruptions expected to continue after new protest sites emerge

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Pink Shirt Day campaign urges Canadians to ‘Lift Each Other Up’

Annual anti-bullying effort returns Wednesday, Feb. 26

ReProm: Second shot for LGBTQ Calgarians to enjoy milestone as themselves

Centre for Sexuality, a sexual health not-for-profit in Calgary, is holding its first ReProm fundraising gala

Calgary woman charged in aggravated assault of 11-month-old daughter

The girl was brought to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary with a broken arm

Little-used part of Constitution led to different carbon tax rulings: experts

On Monday, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled 4-1 that the carbon tax is unconstitutional

Alberta legislature resumes: Focus on jobs and bill to punish protesters

Kenney’s United Conservative government was elected last spring on a mandate to create jobs

Most Read