Free­dom of speech: The Cana­dian ver­sion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FYI -

WHEN con­ser­va­tive rab­ble-rouser — and that’s not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing — Ann Coul­ter was booked for a speech at the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa, the provost of that font of learn­ing dropped her an email of ad­vice. Among the words of wis­dom from Fran­cois Houle: “There is a strong tra­di­tion in Canada, in­clud­ing at this uni­ver­sity, of re­straint, re­spect and con­sid­er­a­tion in ex­press­ing even provoca­tive and con­tro­ver­sial opin­ions and I urge you to re­spect that Cana­dian tra­di­tion while on our cam­pus.” In other words, the uni­ver­sity will al­low any ex­pres­sion of opin­ion as long as it is cer­tain those opin­ions would be ap­proved by a tri­umvi­rate con­sist­ing of, say, Olivia Chow, Maude Bar­low and Svend Robin­son. Coul­ter, who is as at least as much a per­for­mance artist as she is a pun­dit, saw the wide-open net and fired in the puck. Rather than giv­ing her speech to a hand­ful of sup­port­ers, bal­anced by a hand­ful of slo­gan-shout­ing left­ies, she can­celled the speech on the grounds that Ottawa po­lice could not guar­an­tee her safety from a mob, ap­par­ently vis­i­ble to no­body else but her, of club-car­ry­ing, rock-fling­ing, tar-and-feath­er­ing pinkos. So Coul­ter, who was hop­ing to be a bit con­tro­ver­sial, suc­ceeded be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions and Houle, who was hop­ing God knows what, suc­ceeded in looking like a jack­ass.


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