1) Global – 27.4.2010 (go to 6:44 minute)

 2) CBC Radio – 26.4.2010


3) CBC Television:


4) Edmonton Journal: 29 April 2010


5)  Edmonton Journal Paula Simon:

“Mosque opposition may be more than traffic issue ”(May 1st, 2010).  You can read it here: 


6) Edmonton Global News: June 2, 2010:

7)  CBC News,  July 2, 2010 |


8)   Edmonton Sun, April 19:  Local Muslim association faces rumour campaign:

Click Here for the story and the comments


  9)  Edmonton CTV News:  Dispute between local Muslim group and Lessard residents heats up. August 20, 2010


17 Responses to “Media Coverage”

  1. 1 lessardcommunity May 2, 2010 at 4:59 am

    I would like to comment about one of the arguments mentioned by the MAC repsentative on the CBC report. The MAC representative questioned whether the community would rather have a bar with few drunkies wondering about the neighbourhood or having a mosque. I find this very dangerous as it implies that religious individuals are more worthy or deserve better stature/recognition than those who may go to neighbourhood bars. In my opinion, the vast majority of Canadians do not believe that religious individuals deserve to be treated better than others. We are all equal before the law. If you get drunk in a bar and go about vandalizing the neighbourhood, you will be facing the long arm of the law. Equally, if you are a religious individual who parked illegally to access a busy religious assembly or disturb the neighbours by excessive noise, you will face the consequences of your infraction. We are all equal before the law regardless of who we are and what we are doing. I sure hope not to see the day when somebody may imply that the solution to neighbourhood problems is by replacing entertainment venues/bars with religious assemblies.

  2. 2 lessardcommunity May 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Many in the Gariepy/Lessard neighborhoods have serious reasons to be concerned with the magnitude of the proposed project in Lessard Shopping Centre. Creating a Mosque, Youth Centre, Weekend School, Quran School, after school programs, day camps, summer school, banquet hall, recreational gym centre in addition to a full-time private K-9 school might be too ambitious for a 3.2-acre Strip Mall. Elementary schools built since 1970 usually are located on at least 8-acre sites, considering the needs for open space for the students. Such sites are available to the Muslim Association of Canada among the surplus schools in the public system. The neighbors should be complimented for taking a stand for their community. There is nothing easier than jumping to the NIMBY conclusion or painting the neighbors with a racist (‘Islamophobia’) brush. However, their concerns are real and deserve a more serious consideration.

  3. 3 lessardcommunity May 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Re: “Mosque Opposition May be More than Traffic Issue,” by Paula Simon, May 1.

    What Ms. Simon does not mention in her article is that a few hundred residents have already signed the petition to reject the application to rezone the mall to allow for a private K-9 school. The core argument is that the site is inappropriate for a school for parking and traffic issues, not to mention the fact that are no adjacent fields for play or sporting activities that children should have as part of their daily curriculum. The provocative headlines on page A1 (“Hints of Islamophobia in Opposition to Mosque”) and on B1 (“Outspoken Neighbors Could be Harboring Lingering Islamophobia”) have nothing to do with reality, which is much more down to earth – we don’t disagree with the Islamic Community in its bid to establish a center that will provide it with social and spiritual services. However, the current site is not the right one for a school for all the reasons Ms. Simon mentions.
    With her regrettable use of the inflammatory term “Islamophobia,” Ms. Simon has stained literally hundreds of people in our community. Had she done her research better she would have found that in the early 1990s this very same community defeated a rezoning application from St. Anthony’s Ukrainian Orthodox church, located across from the strip mall in question. I do not recall anybody calling the residents “Christianophobs” at that time. Ms. Simon should ask herself why, and then perhaps apologize to the Gariepy community.

  4. 4 lessardcommunity May 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Re: “Mosque Opposition May be More than Traffic Issue,” by Paula Simon, (May 1, 2010)

    I think Ms. Simon has made two good points although you have to be patient and navigate your way in the article avoiding many unfounded allegations and charges.

    She has questioned whether the proposed school would provide a safe and healthy environment for children education. This is a valid point to consider whether the proposed site with its lack of park/field space and its smaller size (14000 sq ft of a 3.2 acres property where the average school in the city is built on 8 acres) is appropriate. I would also question whether a private religious education at this time and age would be conducive to building a harmonious tolerant Canadian society. There are many successful multicultural/multiethnic public school programs in the city where students from different faith/ethnic background learn how to learn, play, and work together. We need to encourage real integration not segregation.

    Ms. Simon has also referenced the spirit of cooperation in the community with regards to 1938 first Mosque project.

    Islam phobia charge is very superficial and was not expected from a well known writer like Ms. Simon. It is difficult to define, reproduce or for that matter prove.

    The Lessard neighbors are providing factual data regarding their concerns with the development. Ms. Simon has not mentioned in her article whether she has interviewed any of the petition campaigners or examined their evidence unlike her colleague Mr. Keith Gerein two days earlier in his Edmonton Journal article. Even though, it is an opinion article, she has quoted the Muslim Association of Canada and their representative Mr. Asaff in her article and provided specific information that she more likely has obtained through a discussion or an interview. She has completely ignored the information widely available in the media by the Lessard petitioners.

    The Lessard neighbors are not religiophobics whether Islamic, Christianity or Judaism or any other faith. They love their community and for that they should be called community lovers

    In summary, Ms. Simon provided two good points and many unfounded points. Unfortunately, the Lessard neighbors have the right to question whether Ms. Simon has truly applied the code of professional journalism in her writing of this article.

  5. 5 lessardcommunity May 6, 2010 at 3:30 am

    On the CBC News Blogger

    CAN1234 wrote:Posted 2010/04/29

    at 10:26 AM ETFor all skeptics, the facts speak for themselves. At a presentation of the Muslim Association of Canada held in December 2009, they provided plans for the prayer area of the project to accomodate between 1300 to 2300 worshippers. Since only very few muslim familes live in the neighbourhood, it is reasonable to assume that most user will drive. Again using a reasonable estimate of 3 per vehicle, we are looking for a traffic and parking that should accomodate up to 760 cars. The parking lot of the mall has 160 parking spots and therefore, 500 cars have to find parking on the street. This is just one of the many expected functions at this site.

    The lessard neighbours are presenting facts based on real data provided by not widely available by the Muslim Association of Canada. The issue is Traffic and parking, nothing more and nothing less.

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2010/04/27/edmonton-muslim-school-lessard-petition.html#ixzz0n7HjWxUa

  6. 6 lessardcommunity May 6, 2010 at 3:37 am

    On the CBC News Blogger

    Danntonio wrote:Posted 2010/04/27

    Multiculturalism does not mean segregation. Its spirit means we should share our cultures with one another. It means we accept other people and their faiths…their values…there ideas. By SEGREGATING ourselves…our children and preventing them from SHARING with others…creates INTOLERANCE….it creates RACISM…It creates FEAR…. I really think we should have one school system…that allows children from all cultures to learn about each other…to share…to understand…. By allowing different groups, cultures, factions, to keep to themselves…to ISOLATE themselves….it FRACTURES Canada…and does not lend itself to the true Spirit of Multiculturalism… I would love my children to share a class with Hindu…with Sikhs…with Jewish people…with Atheists.. with Native Indians…with Christians…with everyone…a place where your are Not Indoctrinated…but a place where you share yourself… I think we are doing a great Harm to create this Isolation, to allow repression (you cant have Christmas concerts anymore Johnny….it might offend another child)….. We need to unite Canada….and learn about each other…not create borders and allow ignorance to fester…… No?????????????

  7. 7 lessardcommunity May 5, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Residents fear mosque will create traffic
    Edmonton Journal, April 29, 2010
    Note: 5 paragraphs before the end of this report, the speaker, Ali Assaf, (a spokesman for the Muslim Association) talks of having more than 200 worshipers in the mosque. In other words, he openly admits of breaking the by-law allowing more than 200 worshipers in this mosque.

    Muslim association wants to turn strip mall into school, day care
    Some west-end residents say clogged roads, not religion, is the reason they are opposing plans to turn a failed strip mall into an Islamic school and mosque.

    Yet the proposal is also the type of project that could be difficult to defeat, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues says.

    That’s because in an effort to combat sprawl, the city is encouraging infill projects, including finding uses for vacant buildings such as closed schools and boarded-up stores. Opponents who fight these plans with arguments about traffic jams and parking congestion are now getting little traction with the city, said Valerie Pachal, assistant director of communications for the federation.
    Except in extreme cases, such concerns are often dismissed as “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) attitudes, she said.

    “Everywhere people are going to have to accept (infill) will be in their backyard sooner or later. I live in an area with lots of empty shops and now a school is closing, and you don’t want to see that, as it leads to the ultimate demise of the neighbourhood.”

    The local chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada recently paid $5.2-million for the two-storey strip mall at the corner of 172nd Street and Callingwood Road. The association hopes to renovate the building for a variety of uses, including a mosque, day care, youth centre and retail businesses. It also proposes to transform part of the space into a full-time Islamic elementary school with room for up to 150 students.

    Some residents of Lessard believe that’s too much activity for the site, which they say was never designed for large gatherings.

    “This is a pretty old neighbourhood,” said Safwat Girgis, who is helping to circulate a petition through the community. “You will not be surprised to find people who have been living here for 30 years and they love it. It’s an extremely quiet and special part of the west end, and they are very concerned about this.”

    The strip mall’s parking lot has 160 stalls, but Girgis thinks big events, such as noon prayers on Fridays, could attract as many as 700 vehicles to the Islamic centre. Furthermore, the intersection at 172nd Street and Callingwood Road is already a busy access point into the community and can’t handle more traffic, he said.

    Girgis denied there was any discomfort in his group about the Islamic faith, though he questioned the Muslim association’s choice to locate in Lessard. While a multicultural community, Lessard has relatively few Muslim residents, meaning most visitors would have to drive or come on buses, he said.

    Girgis believes the building is still viable as a strip mall if it’s properly managed, but failing that he’d like to see a project everyone in the neighbourhood can enjoy.

    “I think the facility can be used in a way that serves the community in general, rather than a very select part of that community.”

    As proof his group harbours no ill feelings toward Muslims, he said the community also opposed expansion plans by a Ukrainian church that has caused some parking problems during major events. When the church proposed to expand its building, residents successfully fought the plan, he said.

    “If this new project goes ahead, we are going to have two major religious institutions literally across the street from each other competing for a parking space,” Girgis said.
    “Neighbours deserve to live in peaceful and quiet neighbourhoods, and this is what they signed up for when they moved in.”

    Ali Assaf, a spokesman for the Muslim Association, said his group chose the location because there was a need for an Islamic centre and school in that part of the west end.

    He acknowledged the project will bring in more traffic, but disputed residents’ estimates that 700 vehicles could show up at one time.

    Religious services are already being held at the centre, attracting between 200 and 300 people who have only half-filled the parking lot, he said. Eventually, bigger events could see 500 people.

    “I think it will accommodate that many with the parking lot we have,” Assaf said. “Any time a school goes up anywhere there is always concern no matter who is doing it. People don’t like traffic and that around their homes.”

    He said the association’s next step is to submit an application to the city to have the site rezoned for a school.

    Residents will get the chance during that process to present their arguments to city planners and city councillors.

    “If the residents have a good argument about the impact of traffic and inability of neighbourhood to handle it, they should be able to convince city council,” Pachal said. “But there will be a fight because utilization and high density is a strong consideration these days.”

  8. 8 lessardcommunity May 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Post : Connect2Edmonton > Regional Issues > Education:

    Here are a few facts that are not widely know. The Muslim Association of Canada has stated that they expect to be able to serve 1200 to 2300 people in the mosque. This would create a large influx of traffic in the area and the parking lot would not be able to hold all the cars for this number of people. Additionally, since Callingwood road has not been widened, there is no place for buses to pull over and drop off students. School buses cannot pull up on 172 street because there is a bus stop in front of the Mall. I suppose the buses could attempt to navigate the parking lot, but it may be difficult if full of cars. If you live in Lessard or Gariepy, the only access to 170th Street is through the Callingwood road, 172nd Street intersection. This intersection is already quite busy due to traffic coming from western and southern subdivisions. If the City widened the road then perhaps the traffic issue would be resolved. Several hundred people have signed the petition and to simply jump to the conclusion that this is anti-Muslim is pretty insulting. This neighbourhood also successfully opposed further development of the Ukrainian Orthodox church across from the Mall (the church wanted to add another building) and were not accused of being “anti-Ukrainian Orthodox”. I wonder why people view this so differently and are so willing to immediately paint the entire neighbourhood as intolerant racists.

    The main reason the Lessard Mall was empty was due to the previous owners. They allowed it to get rundown which drove business away. There are many other thriving strip malls in the surrounding area, and it would be a great addition to the community if the mall could be revitalized into an active thriving retail area.

    Most schools are established on 8 acre parcels, but the Lessard Mall is on 3 acres. The Muslim Association of Canada is applying to have a minimum of 150 students (not maximum of 150 students) and many residents are concerned that this will further exacerbate the traffic and parking in the area. Additionally, this space does not have the green space for playgrounds or sports fields. Perhaps accommodation can be made with other schools in the area, but perhaps not. Centennial school pays for recess and lunch time supervision. Could they manage another 150+ students (aged K – grade 9) at the same time as the Centennial students?? Could be a challenge.

    There are real issues to this rezoning applications and residents are doing the only thing they can to voice their concern. If traffic and parking is bad in your neighbourhood, then perhaps you too should have spoken up when a major development was being proposed. Or are you anti-democratic??

  9. 9 lessardcommunity May 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Connect 2 Edmonton: 02-05-2010

    Paula Simmons wrote what most people are thinking, that the neighbors are anti-Muslim:

    It’s to bad Paula Simons did not write a more positive column instead of pointing fingers at people who may just actually be concerned about the traffic in the area. There is not always ulterior motives to peoples objections of things. Instead she poked a stick at the old racist card.
    She could have wrote a column about the schools that are closing and how, with a bit of foresight, the Muslim community and the school boards could have got together and maybe hashed out a deal to take over a school that was on the chopping block. An existing school would have had most of the features needed for the pupils and a play ground for them to sit on a sunny day. The gym could have served as a place of worship. It would have been wonderful if the school board let them use a school at minimum cost (low rental or lease fee). A school already standing could more than likely take the Muslim children and other children in the neighborhood.
    In hindsight I feel the Muslims Community are selling themselves short by taking a run down shopping mall instead of having the school they so richly deserve.

  10. 10 lessardcommunity May 7, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Connect 2 Edmonton
    03-05-2010, 12:41 PM

    No one else bucked up to buy the rundown strip mall so the residents should be happy the Muslim association will bring some life back to the area.


    What would you rather have in that strip mall?
    Are you sure no one else bid on the strip mall?? I would like to see this strip mall to be similar to others in the surrounding area. For instance, there is a strip mall at wolf willow that has a restaurant, bakery, coffee shop etc. This is what the site was designed for… not a church with a 1200 to 2300 (their figures, not mine) congregation.

    A regular strip mall would bring more traffic than now but certainly not what is expected with this large of a congregation as well as a school, community centre, etc, etc.

    Did I say that? The Wolf Willow mall has Sorrentinos. Callingwood Market has a restaurant and fast food outlets that are doing fine. Callingwood Market also has a pub and a liquor store. I don’t believe there have been any issues. Lessard Mall also had a bar at one point and there were no concerns that I heard of..

    It certainly will not bring in an influx of several hundred cars into the neighbourhood, several nights a week.

    Which strip mall do you live by? Are you sure it is the mall that is the cause of the problem. Maybe it is just the neighbourhood you live in. Have you reported your concerns to the police?

  11. 11 lessardcommunity June 26, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    On the CBC News Blogger:

    Danntonio wrote:Posted 2010/04/28
    at 11:13 AM ET

    Unfortunately our wonderful Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows for this sort of thing to happen. The spirit of the Charter is right…but it’s application is not always a good thing…specially if you think about what is happening here. Yes, we want people to be able to follow their own faith and so forth. But now we are essentially allowing segregation to occur…It is Anti-Multicultural…..instead of celebrating each others heritage and religious beliefs…..we isolate….we keep them in the dark…. This does not lend itself to a blended Canadian Culture….it fractures society. Let children grow up and learn together…

  12. 12 lessardcommunity July 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Re: Islamophobic? Are you kidding me????

    Ms. Paula Simons, et all,

    I am truly incensed with your accusations published on May 1, 2010 in the Edmonton Journal (which I just discovered today).

    Before you point your “racism” figure at me and my neighbours, go to the website http://www.lessardcommunity.wordpress.com. Enclosed you will discover a response to your article dated May 1, 2010 that I believe speaks eloquently for mine and my neighbours valid concerns for our community development programs.

    With over 50% of our entire community having signed this petition already (one in every two homes), I can tell you as a National Child Advocate who fights for Human Rights, that we are a wonderful neighbourhood who has legitimate concerns. We are a multi-cultural society and take great pride in this… In fact, my own children’s step-mother is muslim. And for you to paint me with a racist card, calling me and my neighbours “Islamophobic” is disgraceful! Shame on you Paula Simons!

    I’d like to know where you got your information from that we were a racist neighbourhood with “hidden phobias”? Did you interview anyone here before sputtering your slander? Or was this all concocted in your own mind, and then put to print as if it were fact? What journalism ethical practices did you follow and/or ignore in the writing of this despicable piece of verbiage of yours.

    If it hasn’t been done already, I expect a retraction letter from Ms. Simons forthwith, plus the Edmonton Journal to assign a new reporter/columnist to follow up with a credible non-biased article showing Both sides of this story.

    I look forward to yours, and Mr. John McDonald’s quick response.

  13. 13 lessardcommunity July 11, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    On the CBC News Blogger:
    F_N2010 wrote:Posted 2010/07/05
    at 9:41 AM ET

    “David Mulder, who lives in a duplex just behind the mosque, said it is a shame more people in his community didn’t come out to celebrate the opening on Canada Day.

    ‘I think there should be more people here who are non-Muslim,’ Mulder said. ‘If they want to find out what’s going on, come out here, meet the people. You know, the way to find out [about things] is to meet the people.’

    Actually, the way to find out “what’s going on” would be to go to the Muslim Association of Canada website and read the “About MAC” page. There you will find that they openly admit to being followers of Hassan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Banna despised Western values more than any human being who has ever walked the face of this earth, and devoted his life to promoting the emergence of a fundamentalist Shariah-governed global caliphate. Read up on al-Banna and then ask yourself how comfortable you should be with a mosque run by people who adoringly pledge allegiance to this man and his message.


    Sorry for the bad news, Buffalojump.

  14. 14 lessardcommunity July 11, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    On the CBC News Blogger:

    Mentalist wrote:Posted 2010/07/02
    at 6:00 PM ET

    I like being Canadian. One reason is that we enjoy freedom of religion. I have no problem with what those who follow Islam build as far as a mosque is concerned.

    However I do object strongly to ANY religious school, be it Christian Jewish or Islamic, using public money.

    In Edmonton there are quite a few schools under the umbrella of Edmonton Public Schools that use YOUR tax dollars to teach and propagandize religion.

    For example in some EPSB Christian Schools, there are posters on the walls that say things about the Bible, and that comment on evolution and gays and sex and other things that some Christians like to discuss. Similar things exist in Muslim EPSB schools.

    My tax dollar is supporting religion(s) I disagree with. I am forced to support religions I do not believe in.

    Our charter of rights and freedoms says…..
    Fundamental freedoms

    2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

    (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

    (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

    (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

    (d) freedom of association.

    If I am forced to support religions I do not agree with then I do not have freedom of conscience and religion.

    So fine. Build a place of worship. Great. But please do not take my freedom of religion from me by forcing me to educate your young ones in a religion I disagree with.

  15. 15 lessardcommunity July 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    On the CBC News Blogger:

    historyone0one wrote:Posted 2010/07/04
    at 5:24 PM ET
    ” ….. with hopes of one day expanding the space into a school for Muslim students.”

    “We want to be part of all the social fabric of the society that we’re living around and we want to impact the society that we’re living in a positive way,” Saleh told CBC News.”

    Apparently not, otherwise they’d be going to regular schools.

  16. 16 lessardcommunity July 28, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Taken from the Global News Blog- Monday, July 12, 2010:
    By Gary Fraser

    More concerning has to be the record of so many mosques in other parts of the world that become a centre of hate distribution, violence, and agitation for the implementation of Sharia Law. It is dangerous to go into certain areas of some European countries including London, certainly if you are an uncovered normal modern woman.

    I see red every time I drive by the Jewish synagogues in Edmonton and see a police car parked there, because some idiot(s) have threatened violence against them, in our society. We have no room for such idiocy.

    So the question I have: are these people part of the Isalm culture that promotes violence, segregation and terror? Are they Sunni or Shi’a? It’s a reasonable question in a secular country, considering how much disruption that is centred around Islam in other countries. Wonder if our media have the courage to ignore soft-brained political correction and ask the right questions.

  17. 17 lessardcommunity September 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Local Muslim association faces rumour campaign
    By ANDREW HANON, Edmonton Sun

    Frustrated Report CommentSeptember 23rd 2010, 10:02pm

    This Mosque/School/Muslim Community Centre has to go! Love your neighbour is an Islamic virtue Those words were written on your sign just a month ago! I suggest you do what you preach!
    I live right beside the Mosque and when those guys leave at midnight THEY ARE LOUD! After a few loud nights, I decided to ask for some quiet and got obscenities in return, who do you think you are? You do not own a neighbourhood just because you move here.
    And, here is a fact for you¦ everyone I spoke to thus far agree this neighborhood was much better off without you and your Mosque!
    You say a shabby/dumpy neighborhood, drunks & amp; fighting in the strip, Everyone knows about the crime in Callingwood. You ignorant liar! I bet you are one of the Muslim worshipers from the Mosque! You have to say those lies in order to make the neighborhood look bad hence making you look better. I lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years, there was never a crime problem, I have never seen any drunks in the mall or the surrounding streets, this is a beautiful neighborhood. I love my house and I love my neighborhood, the only bad thing about this neighborhood is the Mosque and its ignorant worshipers. Can I still sign the petition?

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