Lat night, Ann Coulter’s speech event thingy at the University of Ottawa was canceled at the last moment…. Here is the letter I sent my City representatives, asking for some answers…and actions:
I am writing to you, Mr. O’Brien, as my Mayor.
I am writing to you, Mr. Hunter, as my elected representative at the City of Ottawa.
And, I am writing to you, Mr. El-Chantiry, as the Chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board.
If you have not had the opportunity to hear about this already, last night, the City of Ottawa has abdicated its duties, responsibilities and obligations to provide ‘core services’ in a very public manner, which is likely to draw a very large amount of international criticism to our beautiful city. And – rightly so!
Let me cut through the niceties and get to the core of the issue:
Last night, 23rd of March, 2010, an American media pundit – Ann Coulter – was scheduled to speak at the University of Ottawa.
First, let me stress that I am not a fan of Ann Coulter: rather, I am rather vocal in my criticism of her.
Still, that does not excuse what happened….
Sponsored by International Free Press, Ms. Coulter had been booked to speak at the University of Ottawa last night. Even prior to her entry into Canada, M F. Houle – a provost at the University of Ottawa – had sent Ms. Coulter, a letter warning her ahead of time to self-censor her expression, else she will face prosecution. While this letter has received international condemnation (and, Ms. Coulter is apparently considering legal action of her own against M Houle due to this letter), this condemnation of Ms. Coulter for a presumed pre-crime is nowhere as explosive as what had happened last night.
According to Macleans, the ‘police’ had – at the last moment – refused to provide an adequate security response to this event and, as Ms. Coulter is reported to have said, ‘pulled the plug’ on the event! Yes – the University of Ottawa was the primary organizer, and had the primary responsibility. Still, Macleans is reporting that it was the Ottawa Police – not campus security – who canceled the event, claiming they could not provide sufficient security.
Since when is it the role of the police to decide who is – and who is not – permitted to speak at a previously booked, properly vetted event? And – let’s be clear on this: had the Ottawa Police been capable of supplying sufficient security, the event organizers would not have felt ‘threatened’…
The job of the police is to provide security: the event was well publicized in advance and any failure to staff it sufficiently enough, to not be able to provide adequate security – especially following the publicity from Ms. Coulter’s Monday night’s appearance at UWO, is an admission on the part of the Ottawa Police Services that either they failed to plan – or they planned to fail!
Either way, the result is unacceptable (to say the least)! When the police are the ones permitted to decide (through failure to adequately prepare ahead of time, fear of public reaction, or for any other reason) who may or may not be permitted to exercise our Constitutional freedoms, to dictate the tone of public debate – well, the implications are unspeakable!
I am an immigrant, who came to Canada seeking a better life of freedom and opportunity. Opportunity for myself, and, now – my children. I was forced to flee an oppressive police state, where peoples’ rights and freedoms could only be exercised when and where ‘permitted’ by an oppressive, totalitarian regime. And, I came to Canada because this WAS a great place!
Now – seeing police shut down events at the last minute because they chose not to provide adequate protection for a legal event where they presumed ‘unpopular speech’ would occur – well, it brings back nightmares! Very bad nightmares!
Nightmares of a place where only those whose words were approved ahead of time were permitted to speak.
Nightmares of a place where the police could choose what people had rights – and what people did not.
Nightmares of a place where only one point of view was permitted to be uttered in public: one which the police approved of – whether their reasons for approval were ideology or convenience!
Now – Ottawa has become such a place… Shame on all of us for permitting things to come to this!
As I said earlier, I am no fan of Ms. Coulter. Frankly, I find her to be an offensive git. And, I am a member of one of those ‘unpopular minorities’ this silly person really does not like – a lot – and is quite vocal about it…
But, that really is not the point.
A person’s a person, no matter how silly….and if THAT person’s civil rights can be stripped away at the whim of the police, so can mine – and yours!
This is a serious blight on the reputation of our city – as well as a serious threat to all our civil liberties. I would like to know what each one of you, gentlemen, will personally do to both find out where the failure occurred (and ensure the individuals responsible do not remain in the City’s employ) and what you yourself will do to ensure no such abrogation of civil rights and liberties can ever again occur in our fair City of Ottawa – ‘University campuses’ or otherwise!
H/T : BlazingCatFur