Member of Port Moody’s land use committee resigns over bigoted messages, veiled threat to Indigenous Palestine supporter

A member of Port Moody’s land use committee (LUC) has resigned after sending bigoted messages to an Indigenous supporter of the Free Palestine Tri-Cities delegation (FPTC), including a veiled threat against their daughter.

On Tuesday, April 16, the City of Port Moody announced it was made aware of Alistair Henry’s remarks, adding he had resigned from his committee position, effective immediately.

“The personal statements of Mr. Henry do not reflect the sentiments of the city or the public business of the LUC,” the city stated in a brief release.

The messages in question were sent to a Coast Salish ally of the FPTC delegation on April 11, after she led the activist group’s disruptions to an emotionally charged council meeting two days prior.

FPTC members’ frustration at the April 9 meeting had been fueled by council’s decision to rescind a motion supporting the federal government’s call for a ceasefire on the Gaza Strip.

Henry, through his personal Vancity Restaurants Instagram account, attacked the FPTC supporter for leading chants of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free,” which he claimed was the equivalent of calling an Indigenous person a “dirty Indian.”

“You showed yourself as the true Jew hater you are,” Henry said. “You’re a reprehensible and shitty human being. You have no shame and stand for hypocrisy.”

The delegation's Indigenous ally had criticized council for making a land acknowledgement at the beginning of council, and then cutting them off when they didn’t follow council decorum. Henry said they: “pulled the Native card.”

He went on to make blanket racist commets about Palestinians using rape and suicide bombings as weapons, stating they weren’t welcome in neighbouring Muslim countries.

The messages concluded with a veiled threat against the supporter’s daughter, who was identified by name and age.

“Hide behind your laughing emojis. Will you still be laughing when your daughter gets a taste? I guess only time will tell?” Henry said. “Maybe I’ll connect with her/them skateboarding.”

In an email to the Dispatch, Henry said he has apologized to the supporter and is taking responsibility for his actions. He said he decided to resign from the LUC because he didn't want his remarks to be associated with his committee colleagues.

Henry explained his messages came from a place of anger following the April 9 council meeting, but none of his comments were meant to be offensive or threatening.

“I recognized that my words were poorly chosen . . . they were poorly thought out and they were my opinions only,” Henry said. “I was trying to fight fire with fire which is never a wise approach and I apologized for any harm my messages caused.”

Several Jewish residents who spoke during public input on April 9, including Henry, criticized the FPTC delegation for using the slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free,” which they characterized as hate speech.

The rallying call used by pro-Palestine protests across the world has been labelled as anti-Semitic by Israel advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B'nai Brith, who claim it calls for the destruction of Israel.

Some scholars state the slogan dates back to the 1960s as an expression of Palestinian nationalism, which has since been co-opted by a variety of different groups, including both Hamas and supporters of Palestinian freedom and self-determination.

Henry joined the city’s LUC in January, 2023, and is a volunteer member of the Rotary Club of Port Moody. Additionally, his LinkedIn states that he designed the brand, website and lawn signs for Meghan Lahti’s 2022 mayoral election campaign.

Henry’s messages were first published by online in a series of Facebook posts, which included email responses from Lahti, the city, and a real-estate company which employs Henry.

Lahti’s email distanced herself from Henry, stating that while he was a supporter of her election campaign, they have not interacted since the election.

The Dispatch reached out to Indigenous supporter for comment, but they declined to provide a response, citing safety concerns.

Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch