CARPAY: University of Toronto supports left-wing speech, not free speech
As a Jewish commentator on the Israel-Palestine conflicts, Norman Finkelstein is a fierce critic of Israel, accusing the Jewish state of militarism, illegal settlements and human rights violations. The child of Holocaust survivors, he is the author of ten books including The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering and Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history. Finkelstein argues that the American Jewish establishment exploits the memory of the Holocaust for political and financial gain, as well as to further the interests of Israel.
Regarding Hezbollah, the Islamist, anti-Israel group that is considered a terrorist organization by most countries, Finkelstein stated not long after the 2007 Israel-Lebanon conflict, “I was of course happy to meet the Hezbollah people because it is a point of view that is rarely heard in the United States. And I have no problem saying that I do want to express solidarity with them.”
Finkelstein is slated to speak at the University of Toronto Mississauga this month, in the run-up to the annual Israeli Apartheid Week.
Hasbara Fellowships, describing itself as the “leading pro-Israel campus activism organization working with over 80 Universities across North America,” has asked the University of Toronto’s Governing Council to repudiate Finkelstein’s past anti-Israel remarks, and to denounce Israeli Apartheid Week. Hasbara Fellowships brings hundreds of students to Israel every year, giving them the information and tools to return to their campuses as educators about Israel.
Hasbara Fellowships states that “Finkelstein’s past comments are worthy of condemnation because they do not build bridges or mend fences. … they do not further any process of mutual understanding and are divisive statements that we see as having shades of antisemitism. We are certain that the University of Toronto does not want to be seen as being complicit in Israel Apartheid Week as a result of their silence.”
If the university is a forum for the expression of diverse views and vigorous debate between competing claims, it cannot take sides on any moral, academic, political or philosophical issues. Like a referee facilitating a game, the university should enable the examination and discussion of all perspectives, without itself becoming a party in those debates. Therefore, I won’t be signing Hasbara Fellowships’ online petition calling on the U of T to denounce Finkelstein’s views.
However, there is a world of difference between the Hasbara Fellowships petition, which does not seek to silence Finkelstein’s voice, and the tactics that are often used against speakers who reject political correctness. People who are pro-Israel, pro-life, conservative or otherwise right-of-centre, and those who challenge radical feminism, LGBTQ political ideology, or the identity politics of the progressive Left, are routinely silenced on campus, with the approval of university presidents.
As documented at www.campusfreedomindex.ca, when the McGill Friends of Israel planned an event called “Israel: A-Party,” designed to counter-message Israeli Apartheid Week, the Students’ Society of McGill University told these students that they would have to change the name of the event, threatening “possible consequences such as suspension of club status” if they refused.
Disruptive protesters at the University of Waterloo, chanting slogans about “no platforms for Nazis,” forcibly silenced author and National Post columnist Christie Blatchford, a strong advocate for the rule of law and the free society. All while campus security stood by and watched.
At McMaster University, loud, disruptive “protesters” screamed obscenities, beat drums and rang cow bells to prevent Jordan Peterson from speaking. This reprehensible conduct was then condoned by the university’s president, Patrick Deane, having been encouraged if not instigated by his Advisory Committee on Building Inclusive Community.
The University of Toronto should uphold Finkelstein’s free expression rights, and the right of people to hear and listen to his views. This is the correct approach.
However, this standard was not applied to Students for Life, which was barred by the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union from club status, effectively preventing them from using the student centre and accessing student union resources. Students for Life could not join other campus clubs in setting up a table during clubs’ week, or make use of campus spaces to engage other students in discussion.
If U of T permits Finkelstein to speak on its campus, it will be because of his progressive, politically correct opinions, not because the university is committed to free expression.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) which measures the state of campus free speech in Canada at www.campusfreedomindex.ca.
Hamilton police received reports around 3:30 a.m. that of an injured child below the age of two years old at a home close to Bishop Ryan Secondary School in the area of Rymal Road East and Dakota Boulevard.
Police say a 16-year-old boy at the property had barricaded himself inside the home with the baby. The boy suffered “traumatic injuries,” police later mentioning in a tweet that they had him “safely secured.”
The Hamilton paramedics brought the child to the hospital with “non-life threatening injuries.” The police said the child was being examined at the hospital.
The police, hoping for a peaceful outcome, reportedly negotiated with the boy inside. The negotiation went on for hours and police confirmed in a tweet, just after 11:30 a.m., that the 16-year-old male was secured.
The police also confirmed that the teen and the infant are “known to each other” and did not disclose what injuries were sustained by the child.
Const. Jerome Stewart said, “We are very happy we reached a successful outcome,” he went on to tell reporters, “We need some time to continue onwards with this investigation.”
According to police, Bishop Ryan Secondary school is open and there is no threat to public safety.
Ontario public high schools across the province are closed today as teachers go on strike, despite on-going negotiations with Education Minister, Stephen Lecce, and Premier Doug Ford.
Tens of thousands of students and parents have had to find other arrangements due to the closing of before school and after school programs.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) decided to go on strike at midnight on Tuesday due to failed negotiations.
The OSSTF has faced criticism for taking unprecedented strike action, despite Ford and Lecce offering numerous concessions to the teacher’s union.
The union has often had a difficult relationship with previous governments, however, this is the first time since 1997 that its members have gone on strike.
The closures only affect public high schools, but Catholic high schools remain open.
Lecce publicly criticized the union, saying that the strikes were “unacceptable” for families across the province. Speaking to CBC radio, Lecce said that “Our students deserve to be in class today.”
The OSSTF has also been criticized for asking for too much. According to the Toronto Sun, average salary for a teacher is $92,000, which is a significantly higher salary than the average Ontarian who makes $55,000.
Look out Ontarians, a storm is brewing and coming your way. A storm similar to the one that kicked off at the beginning of the month has its sights set on southern Ontario. It’s predicted to hit tomorrow with high winds and low visibility due to strong flurries. The storm will also hit Toronto, according to the Weather Network.
There is a good chance the temperature may rise by Sunday, creating a mess of slush for drivers and pedestrians alike. What is worse yet is the predicted absence of the sun for the coming week. TWN projects that the sun will shine bright over Toronto for only one solitary hour, this Wednesday afternoon.
The GTA may have it even worse still as Environment Canada has sent out a warning of hazardous snow hitting certain regions of southern Ontario.
Both Kitchener and Barrie are looking at a potential of 15 centimetres of snow in a short order of time due to the volume of flurries en route.
This does not bode well for drivers, “Monday night will be clear and cold, so untreated surfaces may become icy again,” said TWN’s meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham. There were approximately 500 car crashes reported on Dec. 1st in Ontario alone due to chaotic weather and icy roads.
The weather is likely to improve after this week according to Gillham who said, “A brief warm-up is expected to start the second week of December.” Although not out of the woods yet Gillham went on to say, “followed by colder weather for the middle and end of the week.”
The OPP advises everybody to be cautious while out on the roads this Christmas season.
The number of Ontario residents requiring food banks while employed has significantly increased over the last three years.
According to a new report by Feed Ontario, formerly the Ontario Association of Food Banks, there has been a 27 percent increase in the number of individuals with employment income accessing food banks over the last three years.
This includes one in every ten Ontarians who have insufficient income to afford a basic standard of living.
The 2019 Hunger Report reveals that more than five hundred thousand individuals accessed a food bank last year, visiting more than three million times. The report furthermore found a growing trend where the number of individuals with employment income still requiring food banks has increased.
“Over the last three years, Ontario’s food banks have seen a 27 percent increase in the number of adults with employment income accessing their services,” says Carolyn Stewart, Executive Director of Feed Ontario. “This tells us that, while these individuals are working in a full or part-time position, they have not been able to secure sufficient income to afford all of their basic necessities each month, like rent, heat, hydro, or food.”
Provincially, Feed Ontario is calling on the Ford government to make significant improvements to Ontario’s social assistance programs, including increases to social assistance rates, an inclusive definition of ‘disability’ under the Ontario Disability Support Program, and the development of a portable housing benefit.
“Feed Ontario believes that its vision of ending poverty and hunger is shared by all levels of government, and that there has never been a greater need for collective action than there is today,” says Stewart. “Through improvements to Ontario’s social assistance programs and government benefits, investments in affordable housing, and the development of quality employment opportunities for Ontarians, we believe that we can reduce poverty while building a future where no one goes hungry.”