OTTAWA, March 24, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – American conservative firebrand Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her talk at the University of Ottawa on Tuesday night after hundreds of shouting student protesters showed up threatening disruption and violence if she was allowed to speak.
“The University of Ottawa is really easy to get into, isn’t it?” Coulter said in a Washington Times interview after the cancelled event. “I never get any trouble at the Ivy League schools. It’s always the bush league schools.”
“This has never, ever, ever happened before — even at the stupidest American university,” she said.
Coulter’s security team told her they believed it would have been dangerous for her to appear to give her speech, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
“Since I’ve arrived in Canada, I’ve been denounced on the floor of Parliament — which, by the way, is on my bucket list — my posters have been banned, I’ve been accused of committing a crime in a speech that I have not yet given, I was banned by the student council, so welcome to Canada!” said Coulter.
Conservative political activist Ezra Levant, who is on the three university tour with Miss Coulter, spoke on behalf of the organizers of the event on Tuesday evening, telling CTV, “it would be physically dangerous for Ann Coulter to proceed with this event.”
Levant said that Tuesday was “an embarrassing day for the University of Ottawa and their student body, who could not debate Ann Coulter … who chose to silence her through threats and intimidation, just like their vice-president did.”
Levant laid the blame for the student riot on U of O Academic VP and Provost Francois Houle, who last week emailed Coulter advising her to watch what she said at the university or face possible hate crime criminal charges.
“A fish rots from the head down,” Levant said. “Francois Houle got his wish. He telegraphed to the community that the University of Ottawa is not a place for free debate.”
Coulter said the email from Houle, made public on Monday, set the tone for and encouraged the protesters.
“I’m pretty sure little Francois A-Houle does not need to travel with a bodyguard,” she told the Citizen. “I would like to know when this sort of violence, this sort of protest, has been inflicted upon a Muslim — who appear to be, from what I’ve read of the human rights complaints, the only protected group in Canada. I think I’ll give my speech tomorrow night in a burka. That will protect me.”
On Wednesday morning Levant spoke to CTV’s Canada AM, denouncing the threat of violence by the protesters the night before.
“Last night, I went on a Facebook page for some of the protesters and there were clear calls for violence. And not just in an abstract way, I mean there were instructions to bring vegetables and eggs to throw,” Levant said.
Coulter told MacLeans that the police “had been warning my bodyguard all day that they were putting up [messages] on Facebook: ‘Bring rocks, bring sticks, you gotta hurt Ann Coulter tonight, don’t let her speak.’ And the cops eventually said, we’ve got a bad feeling, this isn’t gonna happen. And they shut it down.”
Levant said that the spectacle showed “just how eroded our Canadian values of free speech have become” — especially on university campuses.
“I think this has turned into a teaching moment for the entire country, a reminder that freedom of speech is a Canadian value,” he said.
Pro-life conservatives have charged that mob rule appears to be becoming an increasingly common element on Canadian university campuses, where freedom of speech, especially when it comes to the issue of abortion, is curtailed by angry student protesters, sometimes with the complicity of school administration.
Last October, a pro-life presentation hosted by McGill University’s pro-life club Choose Life was shouted down by protesters. Police were called to the scene and, after repeated requests for civility, two protesters were arrested.
Following the event, McGill University Deputy Provost Morton Mendelson and other university officials condemned the protest.
Another student protest was staged at St. Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax, Nova Scotia last February, where pro-abortion protesters descended upon a pro-life presentation, disrupting the event with chants and yells. The pro-life presenter was astonished that a SMU administration representative, rather than stopping the rowdy pro-abortion group, ordered the pro-life presentation to end.
Mary Ellen Douglas, national coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), said she hoped Ezra Levant’s comments on the “embarrassing day for the University of Ottawa” becoming a “teaching moment for the entire country” will be heeded.
“This truly is embarrassing for Canada – making us out to be an intolerant, mob culture,” Douglas told LSN.