Twitter permanently silences Canadian free speech activist Lindsay Shepherd
Update: A source has confirmed that the Twitter ban is permanent.
One of Canada’s most outspoken free speech advocates, Lindsay Shepherd, has been permanently suspended from Twitter. The suspension comes after a jousting match with a notorious trans woman named JY who has been accused of predatory behaviour toward children and making frivolous human rights complaints.
A Muslim hockey coach’s story about being the victim of a parent’s hateful text message is falling apart upon scrutiny and the revelation he made a similar allegation in 2017.
Last week, Talha Javaid, a 23-year-old immigrant from Pakistan who lives in Windsor, Ontario, posted screenshots on Twitter purported to be a text from a bigoted parent unhappy with the free coaching sessions he provides to children in East Lansing, Michigan.
“I’m not racist or anything but I don’t feel comfortable with you teaching him and the influence you will have on him,” a parent named “Chase” allegedly wrote. The text continues: “It’s hockey right? It makes more sense if it’s not some Muslim guy teaching it.”
Javaid’s tweet went viral. Within a week, his post racked up more than 11,000 retweets and more than 56,000 likes. An outpouring of support came from the public, hockey stars and journalists, who praised Javaid and condemned racism and Islamophobia. He received job offers to coach in both Canada and the U.S.
Feminist Muslim writer Shireen Ahmed first publicized Javaid’s story for Yahoo Sports. In the sympathetic profile, it details how Javaid travels an hour-and-a-half across the Canada-U.S. border from Windsor, Ont. to provide free coaching sessions for hockey players age five to eight in East Lansing.
But key facts in Javaid’s story don’t add up. This week, Christiana Ford at NBC-affiliate WILX-TV reported that all ice rinks in East Lansing and the surrounding area deny having ever heard of Talha Javaid, or someone on the coaching schedule with that name. The Post Millennial can independently confirm this.
While the Yahoo Sports profile of Javaid doesn’t name the specific ice rink in Michigan that he allegedly coaches at, a source in communication with him provided The Post Millennial with screenshots where he names Suburban Ice East Lansing as the arena.
Suburban Ice East Lansing strongly denies any association with Javaid.
“We’ve never heard of him,” a staff woman tells The Post Millennial. “He never taught here. He had no ties to Suburban Ice whatsoever.”
Javaid’s “best friend” and co-coach volunteer who is named as “Sebastian Nystrom” in the Yahoo profile, also could not be located. Reporter Shireen Ahmed did not respond to inquiries seeking comment on how she verified Javaid’s claims.
This is not the first time Javaid has claimed to be the victim of a racist message after leaving an ice rink. In Sep. 2017, he said he found a note on his car after leaving the Tecumseh Arena that read: “Stop coming to the rink! (Expletive, expletive) Muslim! Go Home! Make Canada Great Again. MAGA. MCGA.” He posted a photo of the note on Twitter and spoke to the media. A suspect was never identified.
Javaid’s original tweet last week generated over 10,000 responses overwhelmingly in support of him. But by Thursday afternoon, he locked his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. He did not respond for comment.
With a minority government scenario a distinct possibility in the outcome of Monday’s federal election, The Post Millennial offers a primer on how it would shake out in Canada’s Westminster parliamentary system.
First, even if Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives win more seats than the incumbent-Liberals, if it’s not the magic majority number of 170, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau retains
“It’s a complete fiction that whoever wins the most seats (in a minority) gets to form the new government – Trudeau’s the incumbent so he gets the ability to try and maintain confidence in the House.” explains Dale Smith, a parliamentary reporter in Ottawa and author of The Unbroken Machine; Canada’s Democracy in Action.
“He can do that by asking other parties to support him or he can enter into a formal arrangement, whether it’s to prop his government up, or a coalition which would involve having members of other parties involved in the cabinet, a less likelier possibility… he does not need to ask the Governor General’s permission to do that.”
Interestingly, a third-place finish for Trudeau would give him that ability as well, according to Smith, unless he concedes defeat or follows his father Pierre Trudeau’s famous footsteps into the snow.
“Trudeau would need to resign, or signal his intention to resign for (other parties) to cobble together whatever kind of agreement they would want and let the Governor General invite someone else, Scheer presumably, to form a government,” says Smith.
“But until Trudeau makes that decision, it’s his decision to make basically. It’s not the Governor General’s decision, it’s not Scheer’s decision.”
If Trudeau were to recall the House in a post-election minority situation – entirely within his purview as incumbent-PM – issue a Throne Speech and lose the subsequent confidence vote, resignation or asking the Governor General to dissolve parliament and plunge the country into another election remain options.
It is at this juncture that the
Budget bills are also considered a “test of confidence” for sitting governments.
It’s truly amazing how many libraries in Canada just can’t get with the idea that they need to police and restrict speech. The Vancouver Public Library came under attack for hosting an event with notorious gender critical feminist Meghan Murphy, and now the Toronto Public Library is being set upon by a petition of writers who, what else, don’t want Murphy to speak. Yet Murphy’s talk, “Gender Identity: What Does It Mean for Society, the Law and Women?” hosted by Radical Feminists Unite, is sold out.
Murphy’s biggest crime is believing that sex is not mutable, that biological sex trumps gender identity. For this she has dealt with aggressive protests, was banned on Twitter, and has been deplatformed numerous times. This time, it’s the brave writers of Canada, namely Alicia Elliot, Catherine Hernandez, and Carrianne Leung who feel the “need to share [their] disappointment” that the Library is hosting this event. They have demanded that Meghan Murphy be deplatformed. Additionally, they have expressed their surety that deplatforming is not a violation of free speech.
“There is a difference between denying free speech—and what is known as deplatforming, which is when you refuse to allow hate speech to be disseminated in your facility.” The petition circulating on Change.org goes on to state that “if this event moves forward, the signed writers and publishing professionals will no longer, in clear conscience, participate in TPL events.” They vow also to “stage peaceful demonstrations both online and in front of the Palmerston branch on the night of the event.”
The point of contention between the cabal of writers and Murphy is the 2017 passing of bill C-16, which amended the Candian Human Rights Act. This amendment added “gender identity or expression” to those characteristics that are protected from discrimination. Murphy aptly notes that this change was made in haste, without adequate consideration for the impact it would have on the rights of women and girls. The petitioners believe that raising concerns or having an open debate about the rights of women and girls is hate speech. This is exactly the kind of madness that was predicted by Jordan Peterson when he originally made headlines by opposing the bill.
But they also go further and speak about how those who advocate for further consideration of the trans-inclusive amendments are weaponizing free speech.
“Those who want to disseminate hate speech today know that they can misrepresent, then weaponize the phrase ‘freedom of speech’ in order to get what they want: an audience, and space to speak to and then mobilize that audience against marginalized communities. While everyone has freedom of speech, we want to once again point to the limits of those freedoms when certain acts and speech infringe on the freedom of others, particularly those in marginalized communities. We also want to point out that hate groups do not have a right to use publicly funded facilities to meet and organize.”
This is a completely absurd supposition, made all the more inane and caustic because it is coming from a group of writers: people for whom free speech should be the most cherished right. Writers, of all people, should be advocating for the inalienable right of everyone to speak, to make use of public gathering space, and to not be denied that right simply because a couple of thousand people disagree with them. Disagreement is not violence. Why do we keep having to say this to writers, academics, and intellectuals? They really should have the entirety of history at their fingertips to tell them just how dangerous, illiberal, and totalitarian this kind of petitioning is.
Go ahead: stand outside the library, hold up some placards, that’s completely within your rights. But trying to tell a library to deny basic rights that you want to make use of yourself is anathema to, well, being a writer. Free speech should never be conditional.
Protesting the library by refusing to attend or take part in literary events, and by protesting speakers with whom they disagree, are both reasonable ways to express displeasure. But trying to pressure a library into banning speech is not an act of bravery, but one of cowardice.
Thankfully, the Toronto Library will not bend to the will of the totalitarian writers. They released a statement: “As a public library and public institution, we have an obligation to protect free speech. When Toronto Public Library (TPL) makes meeting rooms available to the public we serve, we need to make them available to all on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. As a public institution, our primary obligation is to uphold the fundamental freedoms of freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
It’s reassuring to see that in a society where writers have turned into a censorious mob, at least the public institutions that shelve their books are still committed to the fundamental right of free speech.
Several Liberal and NDP candidates have apologized for their decision to frequently advertise with openly antisemitic newspapers.
The activity of the candidates was first discovered by B’nai Brith Canada, who has been tracking the activity of the “Ontario-based Arabic-language newspaper” al-Forqan.
One NDP candidate, Brian Masse, and three Liberal candidates, Sandra Pupatello, Irek Kusmierczyk, and Audrey Festeryga all advertised with this newspaper, which has continually advocated for political Jihad and the need to bomb Israel.
“In 2016, B’nai Brith exposed an editorial in al-Forqan that praised terrorist attacks in Israel as a “sacred duty of jihad.” This prompted the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County to cut ties with Mohammed Khalifeh, al-Forqan’s Managing Director,” writes B’nai Brith Canada.
This is the same newspaper that found it appropriate to publish “The Hour [of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them” and lines such as “Lying is an attribute inherent to the Jews!”
The other newspaper is the Toronto-based al-Meshwar, which has also praised terrorist attacks and openly advocated for the elimination of Jews.
Scarborough Centre MP Salma Zahid had been advertising with al-Meshwar, saying that he was completely unaware of such posts and advocacy and will never advertise with them again, reports B’nai Brith Canada.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), on whose board I sit, offers pro bono legal services to individuals or groups whose Charter rights the JCCF agrees have been breached. They have announced that they are filing a court application on behalf of the Alberta March for Life (AMLA) and its vice-chair, Jerry Pasternak, “against the City of Edmonton for its decision to cancel a scheduled lighting of the 60,000 LED-lit High Level Bridge in colours chosen by AMLA.”
First, some background on the lighting-up history of the High Level Bridge and the reasoning behind this application.
Edmonton conceived its “Light the Bridge” program with the objective of helping to “recognize major events and cultural celebrations.” Its stated aim is “to reflect the diversity of people who call Edmonton home and our connection to the global community.” The bridge has been lit, in a variety of colours, for such causes/events as Melanoma Awareness, Disability Employment Awareness Month, Rosh Hashana, the Edmonton Oilers Home Opener and Wrongful Conviction Day.
The stated criteria include: events of national or international significance; local events that positively impact community spirit; national or international issues that build community “such as Treaty 6 Recognition Day or End Bullying Pink Shirt Day or World Cancer Day.” The city “reserves the right to deny requests that do not merit public support or are mainly personal, private, political, polarizing or commercial in nature.” (emphasis mine)
This is the second time Edmonton has cancelled a pro-life group’s scheduled bridge-lighting on the grounds that it was “polarizing,” as per its criteria caveats. In May 2017 AMLA received permission to celebrate a March for Life via the bridge, lit up in pink and blue, but was cancelled. The JCCF observes that the city does not offer any precise definition of what “polarizing” means, and furthermore:
“The City of Edmonton is home to a diverse population with a wide variety of views, values and beliefs including, unsurprisingly, persons who express pro-life views. As a government that is constitutionally obligated to be neutral regarding the expression of its citizens, it is not the proper role of the city to elevate and promote the favoured ideological causes of some citizens to the exclusion of the lawful views of others,” stated Justice Centre staff lawyer James Kitchen in a JCCF press release.
In the lawsuit, the JCCF will argue that Edmonton is offering state property to the public to utilize for expression, and can therefore only limit expression in a justified manner. Obviously hate speech, or overt racism or obscenity would run counter to the values and purposes underlying freedom of speech. But, they argue, expression of a pro-life opinion is none of these things, nor can it be considered any more “political” or “polarizing” than other causes for which the bridge has been lit.
According to the JCCF, the arbitrary decision is procedurally deficient in that neither notice of cancellation nor opportunity to respond was provided. The lawsuit requests that the City only light the bridge “without political or ideological favouritism” or in “neutral colours” (perhaps blue and gold, the province’s colours), as well as a declaration that the cancellation was unjust.
Edmonton naturally set out with the best of intentions in planning the Lights program. However, when they wrote the words “personal, private, political, polarizing,” did their committee members actually have a discussion about what the words meant, or wonder if their own assumptions about “political” and “polarizing” were the gold standard of settled opinion? Did they ask themselves whether polarizing meant the same thing as, say, “opposition” of opinion?
Perhaps they had in mind anything that might give offence to certain groups. One might easily deduce this since in our current era pro-life groups are often held up to ridicule and contempt without consequence, because pro-abortion is treated by most politicians and virtually all members of our cultural elite as the default opinion of all civilized and enlightened people.
And yet the offence is purely ideological. Those who do believe in the sanctity of human life from conception are not promoting violence, or actively preventing anyone from having an abortion. They seek to persuade fellow citizens to their belief, but the freedom to attempt to persuade others is the basis of democracy. The judgment that it is “polarizing” has not come down from some objective, disinterested court. It is a subjective judgment that has come down from activists and ideologues whose opinions our progressive elites defer to. How is it the city’s business to privilege one ideology over another?
One could argue that the city has grounds for rejecting the light display because of its “community-building” criterion. It is true that any and all pro-life displays cause social tension. But one could say the same for Pride, which in recent years has become extremely politicized, and which contains indecent presentation and performance that offend many people, especially parents of young children. But since LGBT feelings are routinely privileged in our institutions of education and governance over the feelings of those who find elements of the Pride brand off-putting, the city apparently does not find Pride polarizing at all, only “community-building.”
Likewise, the bridge is open to a request for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes movement, which raises consciousness for violence against women, an important cause to be sure. But would it be open to, say, Male Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Week? The statistics on male victimhood within relationships are (I know, hard to believe, but true) almost equal to female victimhood, but I am guessing that any attempt to use the Bridge to raise awareness of that fact would be considered “polarizing.”
It may be that pro-life displays are not community-building, but that is not their fault. Pro-lifers are always willing to engage in civil dialogue with pro-abortionists, and civil engagement is the most fundamental community-building exercise (remember Norman Rockwell’s famous painting?). But those who consider pro-abortion the only admissible position in public life do not usually willingly engage with pro-lifers. Yet in the present cultural climate, their intransigence, their insistence that there can be only one correct opinion on this subject is not considered polarizing, while the opinion that the subject should be up for debate is considered polarizing, a faulty and undemocratic assumption that the City of Edmonton has demonstrated in their cancellation.
If the city cannot exercise ideological neutrality in its assignment of the Lights, then it should get out of the ideas and “rights” business altogether. Governments, after all, have no obligation to promote “causes” at all. Edmonton could reserve the Lights for a narrow swath of indisputably community-building communication, such as support for the city’s sports teams, physical-disease awareness weeks/months, national holidays and other apple-pie messaging.
But if they wish to go beyond those parameters and offer a podium for philosophical positions or ideals, then they have an obligation to treat groups that dissent from popular opinions with the same respect and rights to that tax-funded space as those with popular opinions.