Universities Are Too Easy On Students Out To Silence Free Speech

Silencing people you disagree with is OK, as long your tactics of disruption, obstruction and physical blockading are not violent.

This is the new doctrine that is rapidly gaining acceptance at universities across Canada.

One could easily write a book about the growing number of incidents where university presidents blithely condone the silencing of speakers with unpopular views (or views unpopular with a vocal minority).

Jordan Peterson

As just one example, this past March a mob of loud protesters effectively shut down a presentation at McMaster University by University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson. They rang bells and beat drums, chanting “Shut him down!” and “Transphobic piece of s–t!” Dr. Peterson could not be heard in the classroom. He eventually went outside, the loud mob following. The University of Toronto psychology professor had been invited to speak at McMaster about freedom of speech and political correctness.

More worrisome than the noisy mob was the response of Patrick Deane, president of McMaster University. He characterized the loud bell-ringing, drum-beating and disruptive chanting as “peaceful protest” which McMaster should allow, and will allow in future.

This same thinking prevails at the University of Alberta. In the case of UAlberta Pro-Life v. University of Alberta, heard in Edmonton June 8 and 9, 2017, the university argues that a loud, unruly, physically disruptive mob should be entitled to shut down campus events, as long as the mob is non-violent.

University of Alberta, Edmonton

The U of A is defending its decision not to discipline any of the students who blockaded a pro-life display on campus in March of 2015. This in spite of clear provisions in the Code of Student Behaviour that expressly prohibit disruption, obstruction and inappropriate behaviour. The code states that its purpose is upholding the freedom to speak, study, learn, write and publish, in the pursuit of truth. The code states that for these freedoms to exist, “it is essential to maintain an atmosphere in which the safety, the security, and the inherent dignity of each member of the community are recognized.”

Nonetheless, the U of A maintains that students who physically obstructed a stationary display with sheets and banners, making it nearly impossible for a campus club to express its opinions, were legitimately exercising their own freedom of expression. This in spite of the fact that, in March of 2015, campus security repeatedly told the blockaders that they were violating the Code. And in spite of a public statement by then-president Indira Samarasekera that the suppression of unpopular views would not be tolerated.

The U of A argues that freedom of expression encompasses all behaviour short of violence. But the university’s own code bans not only violence, but inappropriate behaviour, such as disrupting classes and obstructing university-related functions. The code serves to curtail “behaviours which if left unchecked would, to an unacceptable degree, infringe upon the freedoms described above and thus threaten the proper functioning of the university.”

If the U of A wins in court, its victory will come back to haunt the campus.

Adding insult to injury, after condoning the violation of the code by blockaders, the U of A went on to demand a $17,500 security fee of the pro-life students if they wanted to set up a display again in the future. The university is effectively censoring students who wish to convey peacefully a controversial message that no person is required to accept or agree with. Yet nothing stops the University from demanding $17,500 from the blockaders, whose behaviour and identities are well known to campus security, and who boasted publicly on social media about their “success” in silencing their opponents’ expression. Rather than enforcing the code’s provisions against physically obstructing campus events, the university blames the victims of this misconduct.

Would the U of A condone holding up sheets to prevent students in a classroom from seeing a professor’s PowerPoint presentation about an unpopular theory? Should the professor be required to pay security fees because of his ideas? Why should it be different for a student club that has the University’s approval to set up a display on campus?

If the U of A wins in court, its victory will come back to haunt the campus, because students will realize they can violate the code with impunity, and silence those with whom they disagree.

Calgary lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (www.jccf.ca) which represents the students in their court action against the University of Alberta. This blog appeared in the National Post, June 13, 2017.

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Many homeowners assume that the moisture stains they see on their drywall are caused by a pipe leak. More often than not, these stains are simply caused by condensation. This is especially true during winter months, and your Cambridge drywall services would like to share with you how this happens.

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Andrew Scheer Receives Warm Welcome, But Notes Of Tory Discord Remain

OTTAWA – New Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was warmly embraced by his caucus Monday in a strong show of unity, but notes of discord are already apparent between him and at least two former leadership rivals.

Ontario MP Michael Chong, who ran on a platform to impose a revenue-neutral carbon tax arguing that the Conservatives need to address environmental concerns, sat with his hands in his lap as Scheer told his colleagues the Liberals’ carbon tax is just a cash grab.

We will repeal it and we will defend the rights of provinces to not impose a carbon tax, Scheer said to loud applause.

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Chong also did not clap when Scheer said: Conservatives realize that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to all Canadians. He later told HuffPost Canada he is comfortable with the term and noted that he’s used it before.

When asked before the speech how he would work with Scheer despite their different environment viewpoints, Chong told reporters:

I think my track record shows that I have always been a loyal Conservative, but always somebody who is willing to fight for the ideas that I believe in.

Chong quit former prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet in 2006 because he could not support a motion calling on the House of Commons to recognize Qubcois as an independent nation within Canada. Chong believed the motion equated civic nationalism with ethnic nationalism.

Liberals tried to brand Scheer as an extremist

The Scheer camp attempted Monday to deflect another issue – the influence of the social conservatives in handing him the party’s leadership. Over the weekend, Liberals tried to brand Scheer, a practicing Roman Catholic and a social conservative, as an extremist.

“He won because of the social conservative wing of the party, so he will be under pressure to reopen those debates,” Liberal whip Pablo Rodriguez said.

Scheer voted to oppose gay marriage and against expanding transgender rights. He voted in favour of all anti-abortion motions brought forward in the House.

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Tory MP Garnett Genuis tried to argue Monday that Scheer’s victory was not owing to the backing of the social conservative caucus. In a HuffPost Canada blog, Genuis outlined how Scheer won the leadership on the last two ballots Saturday:

About two-thirds of [social conservative Brad] Trost’s voters went to Scheer, and a third went to [Maxime] Bernier. Scheer then got about three-fifths of Erin O’Toole’s voters, to Bernier’s two-fifths. These things in combination were enough to push Scheer over the top.

Some have said that Scheer won because of social conservatives – but it’s actually much more correct to say that he won because he was able to cut both ways and gain momentum from across the conservative spectrum. He did much better with Trost’s (likely) more socially conservative voters AND with the more progressive voters who generally made up O’Toole’s voter coalition.

The party confirmed Monday that 118,137 ballots were counted in the 13th round to determine the winner. Scheer received 62,593 votes, Bernier had 55,544.

Leadership contender Kellie Leitch made no mention Monday of her call to screen newcomers for so-called Canadian values, but she came to Scheer’s defence, saying she didn’t think his support among social conservatives made him less electable among women voters.

Andrew Scheer had support from across our party. That is why he is leader of our party today. The Conservative party is made up of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, she said, adding that she absolutely planned to run again in 2019.

Scheer may be trying to create distance between himself and social conservatives, but Trost, who finished fourth Saturday with 14.3 per cent of party members’ support, told HuffPost he thinks the influence of social conservatives is now stronger than ever.

andrew scheer

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer receives a standing ovation from his caucus in Ottawa on May 29, 2017. (Photo: Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Noting Scheer’s outstanding voting record on social conservative issues, Trost said while he and fellow social conservative Pierre Lemieux were the perfect candidates for social conservatives, Andrew wasn’t; he is more in the middle but he is not hostile. And he is open not just to people like myself but other people who share maybe more moderate views but similar views.

We are happy, he added.

Social conservatives trust Scheer, Trost added. I trust him to be fair and democratic about it….

I had a good working relationship with Mr. Harper; I have an outstanding relationship with Andrew. [But] will he support me on everything I want to do? Absolutely not.

Scheer took great pains during the campaign to distance himself from any suggestions that he would reopen the abortion debate or gay marriage.

brad trost

Brad Trost speaks to the Tory convention on May 26, 2017. (Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

But he did court the social conservatives’ support – support he now wishes to play down.

Earlier this month, Genuis read a note from Scheer at the March for Life on Parliament Hill saying that the leadership candidate was sorry he couldn’t be there but, as someone who is pro-life, thanked each and every one of them for making their views known.

I’m proud to be running for leader of the Conservative party to become a prime minister under whom all Conservatives would be welcome in my caucus.

Genuis said that Scheer pledged, when he becomes prime minister, to support Cassie and Molly’s Law, an amendment to the Criminal Code to protect women and their unborn children from violent attackers. The Liberals and New Democrats believe that bill would pave the way for limits on abortion rights.

MP read Scheer message at anti-abortion rally

Scheer also suggested he would stop funding abortions in developing countries, saying such assistance was part of Trudeau’s ideological agenda.

‘I hope you will stand with me, and with the overall majority of pro-life members of Parliament, and include me at or near the top of your ballot. Thank you.’ That is from Andrew Scheer. Thank you and God bless, Genuis said, as he stopped reading from his BlackBerry.

Several other Tory MPs used their time on stage to call on social conservatives to vote for solidly pro-life candidates.

There are three of them: Pierre Lemieux, Brad Trost, and the candidate I support, Andrew Scheer, Manitoba MP Ted Falk said.

andrew scheer

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer receives a standing ovation from Rona Ambrose and other MPs in the House of Commons on May 29, 2017. (Photo: Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

The Liberals, who were announcing financial support to court gay travellers, suggested Scheer will be unfriendly to the LGBTQ2 community.

Small Business Minister Bardish Chagger noted that her government is a strong supporter of Pride parades right across this country.

Trudeau, she said, set the standard last year when he participated at the Toronto Pride Parade, the first ever for a sitting prime minister.

What was special about it was the fact that it was natural for him. He had been marching in Pride parades right across the country, including in Montreal, Vancouver for many, many years.

Pride parades, Chagger added, are important economic tourist events for our cities and celebrations of Canada’s open, accepting and diverse culture, and there is nothing more important than that, she said.

Scheer non-committal about Pride parades

Over the weekend, Scheer was non-committal about walking in gay Pride parades, when asked by Global’s public affairs program The West Block.

Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, Trudeau’s special adviser on LGBTQ2 issues, said the prime minister marched in the Pride parade to demonstrate inclusion.

It matters to kids who are thinking about committing suicide. It matters to kids who have been kicked out of their homes by their parents because they’re intolerant of LGBTQ2 kids, Boissonnault said. I expect all leaders of parties in this country not just to be prepared to march in a parade, but to actually march in a parade and be fully inclusive of all Canadians. We’re talking about millions of LGBTQ2 people in our country. This is not a fringe.

On Monday, Scheer tried to make a show of party unity, telling the caucus: Our team is united, positive, and focused on delivering for every-day Canadians and their families in 2019.

The new leader offered his former challengers a speaking slot during question period and most were assigned new seats on the opposition’s front bench. Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, who received 0.41 per cent of support and came in 14th place, received a seat in the second row. Trost was placed in the third row – away from the camera shots.

Scheer’s press secretary, Marc-Andr Leclerc, said the new leader would announce his new shadow cabinet when the House resumes in September.

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