Monday, January 06, 2020

UBC threatened with legal action over free speech concerns after cancelling event

The University of British Columbia has been threatened with legal action for cancelling a planned speaking event featuring a right-wing U.S. journalist who was expected to discuss leftist extremism.

The event set for Jan. 29 that included Andy Ngo, editor-at-large for the Post Millennial, was cancelled after the Vancouver university says the “safety and security of UBC students, faculty, staff and infrastructure was at risk” over repeated threats of violence.

Ngo and his supporters have contended the threats have come from local Antifa groups — the very groups Ngo was set to discuss.

UBC Free Speech Club executive director Angelo Isidorou, who booked the event, says the university’s decision is troubling.

“It’s just emboldening these groups,” he said. “I think the school is now taking a new direction that we feel is unconstitutional and unethical.”

Isidorou says the contract signed between the Free Speech Club and Ngo was approved by the university in November, and a deposit to book the room at Robson Square was also paid.

But in late December, Isidorou says he got a call from UBC’s chief safety officer Ron Holton, who said the university executive team had decided to cancel the event.

“[He said] they think this is too controversial, the risk is too high, they’ve gotten threats, so they’re going to cancel the event,” he said.

“They just said, ‘that’s that. We don’t know how to handle these protests, and our hope is that by cancelling these controversial events, things will simmer down with these groups and they won’t do it anymore.’ And our reaction to that was negative.”

Isidorou says he’s not aware of any threats towards the university, but the Free Speech Club has received various threats from anonymous accounts.

He argues that’s not enough justification to cancel the event, especially since security for the Ngo event was never discussed.

“I’m always ready for that call where UBC says, ‘we need to bring in guards because it’s going to be dangerous, so we invoice you X amount,'” he said, pointing to past events where the club has paid thousands of dollars for security.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) sent a letter to UBC president Santa Ono on Dec. 31 threatening legal action for breach of contract if the university does not reinstate the event.

In the letter, the JCCF quotes UBC’s provost and vice president academic Andrew Szeri, who states the university “must be an open forum where members of the university have the freedom ‘to engage in full and unrestricted consideration of any opinion’” in a statement featured on the UBC website.

“Concerns for safety and security must be addressed in accordance with Canada’s rule of law as a free and democratic society,” Marty Moore with the JCCF writes in the letter. “Freedom must not be sacrificed to fear.”



Bird of Paradise said...

Our neighbor to the North trying to end Freedom of Speech to appease the Antifa scum suckers

Stan B said...

That's called the "Heckler's Veto," and would absolutely be actionable under US Law. Canadian Law, however, is different - they can shut you down, and imprison you, if you offend too many idiots for what they believe or how they act.