University of Waterloo apologizes to Christie Blatchford: “freedom to speak and to learn is fundamental”

UPDATED 2030 Nov 17/10 — The University of Waterloo has issued a strongly worded apology to Helpless author Christie Blatchford after a small group of students were able to intimidate the university into cancelling her Nov 12/10 appearance at the Humanities Theatre:

Apology after author is silenced  

University officials issued a statement yesterday in the wake of a Friday night incident in which Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford was prevented from speaking at a scheduled event in the Humanities Theatre.

A group of protesters took exception to what they called the “racist” attitude of her book Helpless, which deals with the four-year standoff over native land claims in the village of Caledonia in Ontario’s Haldimand County. Blatchford had been invited to campus by the university bookstore to speak about her book. After some time, it was announced that her talk would be rescheduled.

The events of the evening were live-blogged by the Wilfrid Laurier University student newspaper The Cord, and got some media attention yesterday.

Says the statement that was issued by the university yesterday: “The University of Waterloo was disappointed that a guest invited to share a particular perspective on a topic of importance to Canadians was silenced by protesters. Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford was scheduled to appear at the university on Friday night to discuss her new book Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us. Due to safety issues, the university decided to reschedule the event.

“The university considers Friday’s events as an attack on its presence as a place where issues are explored, discussed and at times debated. The freedom to speak and to learn is fundamental to the institution. Waterloo’s ethical behaviour policy states: ‘The University is an autonomous community which exists to further the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and understanding through scholarship and teaching. The University aims to ensure an environment of tolerance and respect and believes that the right of individuals to advance their views openly must be upheld throughout the University.’ To ensure there is no doubt of the university’s convictions, Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur apologized to Ms. Blatchford, on behalf of the university community, for Friday night’s disruption. He has asked the community to begin planning for a safe, open and respectful dialogue featuring Ms. Blatchford and her book.”

Concerns raised re brazen attack on intellectual freedom and free speech

The Blatchford incident attracted national attention from concerned students, politicians, media and NGOs which included the International Free Press Society and the National Citizens Coalition who were alarmed at the flagrant assault on intellectual freedom and freedom of speech on a topic of national importance.

International Free Press Society (Canada)

IFPS-Canada – the organization that has brought Phillippe Karsenty, Ann Coulter, Mark Steyn and Lars Vilks to Canada – made one of the most astute observations of all as to who, with respect to this issue, is most deserving of the term ‘fascist’: 

“Our goal was to not let her speak, we accomplished that.”- Tallula Marigold, Media Representative from the Gang of Five

If by ‘fascism’ you mean ‘suppression of opposition through terror and censorship’, then you must be speaking of the small group of individuals who shut down Christie Blatchford’s speech at the University of Waterloo.

Calgary Herald – ‘The Mob Wins Again’

[…] Invoking a familiar cop-out, university security told Blatchford they could not ensure her safety, so she went home.

Alas, the thugs win again, just like they did earlier this year in keeping Ann Coulter away from the University of Ottawa. The message is that anyone who wants to shut down a speaker on a Canadian campus simply has to stage a protest and a university will cave in. Increasingly, intolerance is winning. As Stephen Harper noted in a speech last week, “anti-Semitism has gained a place at our universities, where at times it is not the mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack.”

The University of Waterloo should have called for backup, cut the bike locks and dragged away the three protesters, along with their negotiator and media spokesperson.

The right to protest must be defended. But when it shuts down discussion and debate, a cherished constitutional liberty is attacked.

National Post, letter to editor by Mindy G. Alter, Toronto

How fitting that the “protesters” who prevented Christie Blatchford from speaking at the University of Waterloo should have made their point via “bike locks.” These are people who have “locked” their minds to opposing viewpoints and who march in “lock step” with the political correctness that has transformed Western campuses into little tin pot tyrannies of “virtue.”

That said, you can’t blame the bike lock brigade for torpedoing Ms. Blatchford’s talk. No, the credit for that goes to craven authorities who, all too frequently these days, use the excuse of “security concerns” to shut down speakers whom the bike lock types abhor — the Coulters, Steyns and now, the Blatchfords.

When our children and grandchildren ask us how we could allow our most precious freedom, free speech, to slip away, we can explain that the police thought our “safety” was more important that our freedom, and that we, poor fools, did nothing to disabuse them of this pernicious idea.

MPPs Toby Barrett & Rick Hillier

In a Nov 16/10 email MPP Toby Barrett described how he denounced the student group in the Legislature, and called on Haldimand-Norfolk constituents to join him and fellow MPP Rick Hillier to support Blatchford at a book signing yesterday evening at a church in Hamilton:

Toby here,

This afternoon I was afforded the opportunity to speak out against the distasteful treatment of our friend Christie Blatchford at the University of Waterloo. 

Please see the statement from this afternoon, pasted below.

Again, if you can get out to support Christie tonight in Hamilton at 7 p.m. at the Chedoke Presbyterian Church, 865 Mohawk Road West, I am sure she’d appreciate it. I have freed up my schedule and my colleague MPP Randy Hillier and I will be there. 

Hope to see you this evening.

Toby

One day after Remembrance Day, Christie Blatchford was to deliver a speech at the University of Waterloo on her book Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us. 

One day after we paid tribute to those who fought to the death for such rights as Freedom of Speech, Ms. Blatchford was prevented from speaking.. 

A university spokesperson said, “Unfortunately there is a small minority that felt that they would win if they’d just sit on the stage and yell ‘racist, racist, racist’”. 

“They did win,” said Blatchford. “If their whole goal is to shut down free speech, then absolutely, they were successful.” 

An online photo shows protestors carrying a swastika across the stage. 

This is not over Speaker — The First Nations Solidarity Working Group has issued a call to organize and respond to Blatchford as she makes her way across Canada promoting her book. 

Freedom of expression and free speech is important – people have fought to their death for these freedoms. Don’t impose censorship on another because you don’t agree. Intimidation is wrong and cowardly. If you want to get your message out you need to let others do the same. 

Christie Blatchford may return to Waterloo. She is speaking tonight in Hamilton — I trust her right to freedom of expression is enforced.

Helping UofW understand the truth behind the false accusations of ‘racist!’ against non-native activists and commenters

We have provided information to the university to counter the outrageous propaganda of some of the radicals who have, in the past, painted non-natives who speak out on behalf of Caledonia victims as anti-native, racists and neo-nazis, etc.

  • Tekawennake News (Six Nations) op-ed series, July 14-21/10: Healing Two Communities [PDF, 7p] 
  • Mark Vandermaas presentation to 2010 New Directions in Aboriginal Policy forum at Mount Royal University, May 05/10: Listening to Victims: A Fresh Approach to Healing and Reconciliation [PDF, 21p, 8.5MB – be patient]
  • Gary McHale & CANACE vs. Tom Keefer & CUPE 3903 [PDF, 4p]

Readers who wish to understand the role of radical students, unionists, anarchists and terror sympathizers in fomenting lawlessness in Caledonia and Brantford, and falsely accusing victims and their advocates of being racists should review these key documents.

References

POSTED BY: Mark Vandermaas, info@caledoniavictimsproject.ca

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About Mark Vandermaas

I am founder of Israel Truth Week, and I'm the 'Liberate Israel Training Guy.' I train pro-Israel advocates in how to use Israel's land title deed-the Mandate For Palestine-as a powerful moral narrative to counter the false 'occupation' vilification. Also, founder of VoiceofCanada.ca and the Caledonia Victims Project.
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