About two thousand noisy protesters is what it takes to get an Ann Coulter speech canceled, apparently.
That’s the scene which transpired on Tuesday night at the University of Ottawa, where the right-wing author had planned a talk. Canadian media described the crowd as “boisterous.”
“A spokesman for the group that organized the event said there were fears for CoulterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s well-being after about two thousand people gathered outside the venue to protest her presence there,” The Toronto Star reported.
If there’s anything Canadians know about Ann Coulter, it’s likely her comments several years ago on Fox News in which the conservative pundit declared Canada to have “become trouble recently.”
“They better hope the United States doesn’t roll over one night and crush them,” she said on Hannity & Colmes in 2004. “They’re lucky they’re allowed to be on the same continent as the United States.”
Other Canadian cities she plans to grace on her current tour include Calgary, Alberta and Ontario.
Ahead of her spoiled event in Ottawa, the university’s provost sent Coulter a letter stating, “I would … remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or ‘free speech’) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.”
Coulter circulated the test to right-wing media, claiming that she’d become the victim of a “hate crime.” Then, she snarled at a Muslim student to “take a camel” instead of flying on commercial airliners.
For the University of Ottawa, the issue may be somewhat personal. In that same Fox segment where she declared Canada “lucky” to be “allowed” to be in North America, she also stated that it’s fair game to ridicule Canada because they “speak French” there. The University of Ottawa is a fully bilingual school, offering classes in English and French.
While Canada’s hate speech laws are generally considered less restrictive than those found in Europe, they are certainly more restrictive than any that exist in the United States. The laws make it a criminal act to “advocate or promote genocide,” meaning to call for the killing of “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” The laws also make it illegal to “communicat[e] statements in any public place” in order to “incite hatred against any identifiable group, where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.”