BY JOHN CARPAY
In Canada today, if you want to shut down the conference, rally or speaking engagement of someone whose opinion you disagree with, all you need to do to is accuse your opponent of being far right, racist, fascist, white supremacist, Islamophobic, or homophobic. The accusations need not be true, as long as they are shocking and loathsome.
Hurling these kinds of accusations will arouse the local “Antifa” (anti-fascist) mob to organize a counter-protest, which just might lead to violence. As soon as violence becomes even a mere possibility, the authorities are quick to cancel the event, in the interest of “safety and security.”
This safety-and-security strategy has already been used successfully, for several years, at Canadian universities. Intolerant, self-righteous thugs engage in the physical obstruction of pro-life displays, and shut down pro-life events through shouting and disruption. In the name of safety and security the university takes the side of the thugs and cancels the event, which is exactly what the thugs were hoping for.
In August, Ryerson University cancelled an event titled, ironically enough, “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses.” This event was to feature University of Toronto psychologist Jordan Peterson, Concordia University professor Gad Saad, clinical psychologist Dr. Oren Amitay, and conservative journalist Faith Goldy. Same dynamic: left-wing activists accused the speakers of being far-right, fascists, white supremacists, even Nazis. (Saad is an olive-skinned Jew, born in Lebanon, if it matters.) The Antifa created a fear of violence, so Ryerson folded like a cheap tent, citing safety and security.
Canadian cities are no different from universities, it seems.
This past summer, the City of Calgary withdrew its permission for the “Say No to Hate and Racism Festival.” Stephen Garvey, one of those scheduled to speak at the June 24 event, was subjected to the usual name-calling. Sadly but predictably, the city pulled the plug on the entire festival, claiming it was “anti-Muslim and Islamophobic” without providing Garvey, leader and founder of the National Advancement Party of Canada, and other organizers of the festival with an opportunity to defend themselves against the accusations.
More importantly, even if Garvey did have odious views, a free country must allow him to express his opinions, in a peaceful manner. Governments cannot deny the use of public spaces and facilities to those who espouse the “wrong” opinion.
London, Ontario also responded blindly and fanatically to accusations of racism, far-right, and Islamophobia levied against PEGIDA Canada. PEGIDA is a German acronym that means Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. The stated mission of PEGIDA Canada is “to protect and preserve the democratic freedoms that our country was founded upon.” Like Calgary, London equated opposition to sharia law and Islamic terrorism with “racism, bigotry, and hatred.” London’s mayor and councilors passed a motion instructing the bureaucrats to deny use of “civic spaces, and/or facilities and spaces” to organizations whose ideologies are contrary to the City of London. Apparently, the City of London has an “ideology” that everyone must agree with. Creepy.
In Grande Prairie, Alberta, the city cited safety and security for cancelling a permit that had been issued to Concerned Canadians for Canadian Values, which had planned a peaceful free speech rally opposing Parliament’s M-103 “Islamophobia” motion. As city manager Robert Nicolay explained it: “In light of recent conflicts around similar gatherings across Canada and in the U.S., it’s not unreasonable to foresee that the proposed August 26 event may increase risk for participants, other users of Muskoseepi Park and the general public.” In other words: some Antifa thugs or Anarcho-communist thugs might show up, and they might get violent, so therefore you cannot exercise your freedom of expression.
Canadian universities and cities are displaying appalling cowardice while failing to uphold the rule of law. The rule of law is one of the principles upon which Canada was founded. The rule of law means, among other things, that neither the king, nor the mob, nor majority opinion can take fundamental rights and freedoms away from the citizen. One of those fundamental rights is freedom of expression. When municipal and university authorities allow a mob to silence the peaceful expression of opinion, simply by way of activists threatening violence, the government repudiates the rule of law.
The real fascists in Canada today are those who repudiate the rule of law.
This column originally appeared in The Interim.