An event scheduled for Jan. 12 with MP Marc Garneau, was postponed indefinitely because the Montreal Police allegedly alerted organizers that they were anticipating violent protests in response to the talk.
The talk, organized by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) and the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR), was supposed to look at Canada-Israel relations.
Garneau is the MP for Westmount—Ville-Marie and was one of the first Canadian to go to outer space back in October 1984. He was appointed as the executive vice-president of the Canadian Space Agency in 2001, and became the president in November of the same year.
Bradley Martin, CAMERA Fellow and Representative for Montreal and a student at Concordia, wrote on the event’s Facebook page at around noon on Jan. 12 announcing the talk had been cancelled because the Montreal Police had notified them of a violent protest was set to take place because of this event. At around 7 p.m., Martin posted to clarify what had happened, writing the following: “This morning, the Montreal Police informed CIJR that their cyber division detected a planned protest of the event. This protest was estimated to consist of about sixty demonstrators and considered to be hostile and violent. Under the circumstances, it was determined that the venue could not be secured properly and the safety of attendants would be at risk. It was therefore decided that the event would not take place as planned and be postponed indefinitely.”
In the post, Martin spoke for both organizations and said that they were very unhappy with the situation. “We are very disappointed and outraged about the fact that our rights, and the rights of an elected Member of Parliament, to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly have been compromised,” Martin wrote. “Threats of violence and intimidation tactics are not acceptable behaviors and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. We live in a beautiful country, where the freedom of speech and assembly are foundational to our way of life.”
The decision to postpone said event was made by the CIJR’s National Chairman
Jack Kinsler. He felt the they had no choice but to cancel the event because the call from the police happened so soon before the talk was set to happen, and because they hadn’t organized the event themselves. The CIJR had allowed CAMERA to use one of their spaces to host the talk, located at 1396 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Suite 218.
Kinsler told The Concordian that he was very unhappy with the situation, especially after this week’s attack on Charlie Hebdo staff this week in France.
“[The threat of a violent protest] shouldn’t have happened in the first place. MP Marc Garneau should have been able to come and speak to people in a civilized manner without threats … as soon as one side intimidates the other something is wrong there, there’s a malice, there’s a problem,” Kinsler said.
The Montreal Police were contacted and said that they were not the ones who contacted the event organizers, although both CAMERA and the CIJR confirmed that they had been contacted by them. According to CIJR, the information concerning the protest came from the police’s information department.
Israel on Campus: Concordia has posted on their page that they are unhappy with the situation. They wrote the following in a Facebook post: “It is extremely disheartening and upsetting that members of our own national government are not given the chance to share their ideas freely for fear of violent consequences. Israel on Campus believes in free speech and the right for a free flow of ideas. We will not be silenced and we will continue to fight for Israel on our campus and in our country.”
The event has been postponed indefinitely.