The section pertaining to hate speech, defamation, harassment and free speech in the AHRA:
3(1) No person shall publish, issue or display or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that
1. (a) indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate against a person or a class of persons, or
2. (b) is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt
because of the race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation of that person or class of persons.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to interfere with the free expression of opinion on any subject.
On September 29, 2013 "Speakers Corner Calgary" set up a public debate on 17th avenue on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. View that debate here. Two members of our organization attended, one Jewish and a lawyer, the other Metis and an organizer at Idle no More. One behalf of the Palestinians an organizer with the University of Calgary Palestinian student campus club spoke. Representing Israel's position was an independent advocate in Calgary who we didn't know. Part way through the event, a former member of the Palestinian student club approached the Metis individual (thinking he was Jewish) and said: "too bad the Nazis didn't finish off your family".
The club organizer privately apologized and said the belligerent individual would be removed from their group. However, after the event the organizer went to lunch, with a group of people, including the individual who had made the racist comment (there are eye witnesses of this). Furthermore, the Palestinian club did not remove this individual from their online group until almost two months later, when we publicized this information (see screen shot).
This club maintains that calling Israelis "terrorists" and "racist" is not anti-Semitic, but that the comments of this individual are. We maintain that 1) both comments are heavily anti-Semitic and; 2) the Nazi comment is a direct symptom of the anti-Israel activity allowed to happen freely in the name of "open debate" at the University of Calgary.
On October 8, 2013 the University of Calgary's Palestinian campus club brought in the virulent anti-Semetic speaker Miko Peled to present to about 200 students and non-students. This talk was hosted in part by the charitable organization "CJPME" which doubles as an Israel-defamation group. At his talk, Miko Peled repeatedly stated that supporters of Israel are "racist" and IDF soldiers are "terrorists". He also stated that:
The club that brought Peled to speak also runs the aggressive Israel Apartheid Week campaign and won "Student Advocacy Club of the Year" in 2013.
Approximately 2 months ago, a former member of the Palestinian club stated to a supporter of Israel "it's too bad the Nazis didn't finish off your family". We contend that this rhetoric is a direct symptom of the kind of rhetoric and activity that has a home on University of Calgary campus.
We have asked the university repeatedly to protect supporters of Israel on campus from all speech that exposes this class of persons to hate. This speech is harassment and it is defamatory. This speech creates a scary environment on campus.
We are requesting the University of Calgary protect supporters of Israel on campus from rhetoric and action on campus that expose us to hatred, and we are asking to be provided with a safe environment that is conducive to our academic success.
The only repeated response we have received is that "we value...free and open debate" and "should you believe the speaker espoused hate speech, [we] encourage you to contact Calgary Police to share your concerns".
"Free and open debate" is a misrepresentation of what is happening on campus. The response is belittling, dismissive and unbecoming of the institution we hold so high. The response is also not aligned with the "Eyes High" strategy implemented recently that speaks a great deal about "integrity".
We are exploring legal recourse. To be continued...
Last academic year the University of Calgary curbed the free speech of an on-campus club displaying graphic abortion images. The university's lawyer at the time, Peter Linder stated that the university's request the club conceal the disturbing signs was a 'reasonable limit on the students' free speech rights'. Read more here: Campus Pro-Life launches appeal after University of Calgary reprimanded them
Several universities in the UK this month decided to ban the talk of a Muslim cleric who speaks out against homosexualilty. Why did the university curb free speech in this case, but does not in others? How do universities decide which class of persons to protect?