The opposite of diversity

The opposite of diversity is University. Here we are in a University town. How can we ignore the Ann Coulter fiasco without comment.

On CBC radio this morning there wasn’t even a debate. Three people, supposedly with different viewpoints were interviewed and not one of them was shocked and disgusted that “our political culture” is such that Ann Coulter can’t speak at the University of Ottawa. It used to be the left that defended civil liberties and freedom of speech. Now that the left is, in their view, the dominant culture, who cares? Now free speech is “offensive”.

What kind of a country do we live in where at least some of us must self censor or risk being hauled up in front of a Human Rights Commission or charged with a hate crime for our opinions?  Coulter was warned off by letter with a threat of criminal charges before  she opened her mouth. Guilty on reputation. Guilty until she proves herself  innocent and by “their” definition . Get your mind Riiiiiiight, Girl.

The University as a centre of free, independent and critical thinking where a clash of ideas is welcome? Dream on. Forget that. Passe. It is [their] political correctness or nothing. They will decide what our children will have their heads filled with. And we will pay for it.

The University of Ottawa should be ashamed. Coulter says a lot of stupid things but when she called the U of O bush-league she was on the mark.

Naturally we wonder whether Ann Coulter could have spoken at Acadia. No, because she wouldn’t even have been invited. There is no intellectual courage here. No one here wants the messiness, the “conflict” of democracy or open debate. They want things “safe”, controlled – by their boys of course.  Just like the mayor and Town Council. The Sounds of Silence. But I hear the echo of jack boots.

Related:  Right on Rex.

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18 responses to “The opposite of diversity

  1. Betty Morgan

    I would love to add a word about the event or non event at Ottawa U. I had not heard much about Anne Coulter until this week. Now I am very curious to know what she could have said that would have offended the little ears of those boomer children in their safe little hideaways at U of O. No courage is right. Not all the kids are so weak minded that they are afraid of hearing right wing ideas. It is scary to think they will be the next generation to run this country.

    Where ARE the leaders?

  2. Politics has become a shiver looking for a spine to run up. It’s all about the next opinion poll and the lowest common denominator. Universities seem to do no more than conform, like so much Jell-O.

    Oh, it’s all so boring. Bring back the 60’s.

    Heck, even in the 70’s we’d hear out the far-wing nut-jobs… and then toss them in the Albert Park fountain when we’d had enough. That was back at Auckland U. (NZ) at a time before sissy legislation constipated common sense.

  3. I really don’t know what you’re getting at here.

    1) According to several sources, she’s the one who made the decision not to attend. (After the warning and some protests, yes)

    2) Even if the university canceled the event on her, it is not suppressing free speech if it’s a private event on private property. It’s just being a bad host.

    3) Yes, the students shouldn’t have to be sheltered, but Coulter is, and I think this can be said fairly objectively, not someone who presents right-wing ideas of value. She’s a professional victim and the political equivalent of a radio shock DJ.

    For example, in what might have necessitated the warning in the first place, she told a Muslim Canadian student who confronted her about her numerous “flying carpet” comments that the student should instead “take a camel”. Truly a brilliant, free-thinking political voice of our time unduly silenced? Give me a break.

  4. Jack boots????? That is just a bit over the top isn’t it? I would agree that free speech has to include the right of someone you do not agree with having the right to speak their views. Of all places that this should occur is in a institution of higher learning. Stating Acadia has no “intellectual courage” for not inviting Ann Coulter to speak without thinking about what the cost in dollars a speaker like her charges is more than unfair.

    With regards to the Town you might want to ask what has changed in the past five years. Five years ago the same Mayor with three of the same councillors welcomed questions from the gallery and permitted comments from the audience on agenda items. Why has that ended? One can assume that Council (it is not the Mayor’s decision alone) must have reached the end of their patience with the same individual continually finding or trying to find something negative to bring up at every meeting and every time they spoke. The unfortunate part of it is that the individual may have something important to contribute but it becomes lost in the continual nit picking. In the end Council has lost valuable public input and the citizens have lost their ability to question and perhaps influence their representatives on any variety of issues. But jack boots? I don’t think so.

  5. Hey Robert, good to see you are still on the ball. Did I read you right? Are you suggesting that Council has clammed shut like a bucket of bivalves because of a mere individual.

    Or is it like that old joke? “Don’t go down there sir, there are two of them! Oh no! It’s a whole bleeding army!”

    If Council got taxes down to somewhere near reasonable then they probably wouldn’t have to fear so much of that “nit picking” scrutiny. I’ve been reading all the Town budget blather… Since there is no point participating, I’ll probably just settle for a bit of nit picking parody.

  6. I cannot comment with any degree of certainty as to why Council has taken the action they have. I have not asked anyone and have not attended the meetings. I can only look at where we were 5 years ago and where we are today and try to make 2 + 2 = 4. I know that when anyone is continually negative the natural and human reaction when they put up their hand is “what is it this time”. Right or wrong you tend to tune someone out. Council must have felt that allowing questions and comments were becoming counter productive. While I understand it I do not agree with it. Is it the first time the actions of one negatively impact others? No. Will it be the last? Regretfully not.

    With regards to taxes we can go on forever. Tell me the rate you want and I will tell you what you have to give up to get there. Remember though, there is no easy solution. If you let someone go you have to ask yourself who is going to do their job, if you cut pay, you need to know you can get people to work at what you are paying considering what they can earn elsewhere, given you do not have a Wal Mart can you attract visitors and shoppers if your town does not look its best. If you look at the core services the town must provide by law there is not the room to move that you might think.

    Wolfville has the disadvantage of being a town in a Province where the efficient use of land is penalized. We do not get the services of our neighbour without paying for them ourselves, we pay for many joint services by our assessments rather than the cost of the service. We have and always have had a small commercial tax base compared to other towns, we have no industrial base and our largest institution is tax exempt. Even the grant we receive comes with a penalty when calculating uniform assessment.

    I had thought we would have heard from the task force on the Town’s financial future by now. It has been over a year. Perhaps I missed it. The challenges for any Council are there. The Council, four of whom promised to cut taxes, found that out last year.

    Finally with regards to WW comments on my reaction to “jack boots”. Good debate deals with issues in a civil manner. When we begin to assign motives or make what can only be considered as nasty asides then that is lost and the debate becomes personal. Too often do people feel they can win not by discussing the issue but by insulting the people involved. You can easily argue that the current councils position on public participation is wrong without the insult. What you are doing is showing why Question Period in our House is so unproductive. Ann Coulter does not speak the way she does to convince us she is right. She does so because that is what sells.

    • I know that when anyone is continually negative the natural and human reaction when they put up their hand is “what is it this time”. Right or wrong you tend to tune someone out. Council must have felt that allowing questions and comments were becoming counter productive. While I understand it I do not agree with it. ”

      We are extremely happy to hear you say that you while you understand the attitude you disagree with it. But we would like to make this observation, phrased as a question. And that is : How are questions negative? Any question can be considered negative if one imputes a negative motive. Seems to us that this is in the eye of the beholder. The Council and especially the mayor seem to have this attitude, a defensive attitude, deciding that questioners are not town builders – that they do not have the town’s interest at heart, that they want for some strange reason to run Council and the Town down. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is the Mayor’s and Council’s problem (misunderstanding) not the fault of the questioners.

      Certain questioners have been put in the “negative” class while others would be favorites – if they asked any questions, that is. Perhaps they dare not for fear of being put onto the mayor’s black list.
      It is also obvious to us that when some questions go unanswered it just raise more questions so in that sense too the mayor and Council are their own worst enemies. They are breeding mistrust and so the cycle continues and worsens.

  7. The property tax rate is not really the point. It is the amount of property tax that one pays that matters. I pay 4 times the property tax here that I did in Australia (and no, I wasn’t living in a slum back then…). OK, we didn’t have to deal with snow but that hardly makes up all the difference.

    I really don’t know what all those services are. I just don’t see them. Garbage pickup is once in a blue moon. It shouldn’t cost so much to pump a bit of sewage and fix a few pot holes. There is simply no value for money.

    Previously, I’ve made plenty of specific suggestions about how costs could be brought in line with the real world. Why, just the other day I suggested to Council how they could cut a $110k annual loss.

  8. After reading Mr. Wrye’s letter it occured to me to solicit his help, perhaps with others of his choosing, toward healing the serious rift between some councillors and a number of concerned citizens, a rift which is ever widening with no chance of healing without, first, a sea change in the attitude of council.
    Mr. Wrye served as councillor and deputy mayor for a number of years, and I am confident he holds the respect of the present council. He is in a particularly good position to negotiate and work toward a more productive relationship because he has had an opportunity to watch the situation from both sides of the fence .
    It’s important to understand that the mayor and council blatantly ignore their DECLARED GOAL of openness and clarity, which in turn serves to raise suspicion in the minds of those who follow town matters closely – what is being hidden from us? And why?? Do we need a forensic audit?
    For example: at the recent budget meeting a counsellor stumbled and asked the CAO about a $ 50,000 expenditure . The reply was “well, it’s about THAT matter”. The councillor promptly moved on. Of course we weren’t allowed to ask for any explanation.
    Also: the current debacle around unusual changes to the CAO’s contract is a perfect example – “missing” decisions from the minutes and the sheer and inexcusable wastage of public money directly attributable to the mayor’s refusal to explain or reveal blacked out sentence(s) from a letter he wrote which set out details of the CAO’s revised contract.
    Of course our antenna are high. But we are road blocked at every turn.
    There is an alarming and deliberate practice of withholding information from taxpayers of which the above examples are just two of the most recent . Meanwhile those with the courage to stand up and be counted are, I’m sure, reviled in private to justify the necessity of circling the wagons and of having secret deals. But it is vital for the mayor and each councillor to accept the fact that the problem is of their own creation and the ONLY way of healing is for them to BE SEEN to be open, transparent and forthright. Really soon.
    The refreshing result would be, over time as trust is gradually rebuilt, to end the invective and to improve relations.
    Why is this so hard to see or understand?
    It’s a real challenge and if you can make it happen, my cap would be off to you.
    What do you say, Bob?

  9. Robert Wrye

    I am afraid Larry you are badly overestimating my influence with the current council which I would rate between little and none. I do not know what has caused 4 councillors who ran on being more open than the previous council to be more closed. Budget meetings that you cannot state opinions or ask questions make you wonder where the public input is to come from.
    I can answer a couple of things. First it is not the Mayor who has decided to black out part of a letter. That is the FOIPOP officer. The Mayor does not have the right to ask that something be blocked out or ask that it not be blocked out. Nor does Council. That is my understanding of the process which may have changed in the past two years.
    Second the Mayor negotiated the changes with the CAO on the instructions of Council. What was missing in the minutes that followed the in camera session was a statement to that effect. Unfortunately, no one thought that with the CAO not in the meeting there was no one to make the notation. That was Councils fault.
    I can assure you that this was not a secret deal between the Mayor and CAO. The Mayor wrote on behalf of Council with the knowledge of Council. After the changes were accepted by both parties Council acted in what it believed to be a legal manner by putting the changes in the budget. There was not at the time any attempt by anyone sitting at the table to deceive anyone. I know because I was there and have no interest in lying about it then or now. While I would have loved to save the money I believed that we needed to pay the CAO a competitive salary or risk losing him and having to pay a replacement the same competitive salary. Right decision, wrong decision is in the eye of the beholder but I can say with certainty it was made by Council which includes the Mayor and not the Mayor alone, was made in good faith, and was not done in a manner to deliberately deceive people.
    I cannot comment on the services that you received in Australia for what you paid Brian, but nothing here is as simple as it seems. Garbage pick up may only be every two weeks but it does have to meet provincial standards which includes separation into the various streams and using a second generation landfill. It is not cheap to provide. We pay for half the cost based on the number of dwelling units and half based on uniform assessment. Guess who’s garbage you are paying for. Whether it be sanitation, water or waste water, the Province or Feds make the rules and the municipalities pay the bills.
    I have gone on long enough. I do not have an answer Larry and I do not have the influence to help you. I am afraid that everytime I get too critical it just sounds like sour grapes. If I were you I would demand that those that I support fulfill the promises that they made. The Mayor is one vote of seven. Council as a whole have made the decisions which have changed the public process in Wolfville.

  10. Robert paints a picture of Council as the Provincial whipping boy. If this is truly the case then let’s get rid of Councils altogether and just focus on lobbing missiles at the goons running this Province.

  11. Heck, I just realized, that would be the opposite of diversity. Urgh… failed again.

  12. I’m disappointed by what Bob Wrye provided in his comment and have to say it reads very much like an apologia for the mayor.
    Bob says it was FOIPOP and “not the mayor who decided to black out part of the letter” to the CAO. What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? And is the CAO, whom this matter is all about, not the resident FOIPOP officer? For goodness sake, are there no rules about conflict of interest?
    But here is the real question – why was it necessary for Mr. Becker to go to FOIPOP in the first place?
    Don’t forget it was the mayor who was calling the shots. And it was because the mayor still refuses to provide information (to which we are entitled) which has forced Mr. Becker to take the steps he has. And the mayor remains unbending at a scandalous cost to taxpayers which is still rising. So let’s not shoot the messenger.
    Answer me this: who dreamed up the idea of increasing the taxpayers share of the CAO’s pension contributions to 18 % rather than simply increasing his salary? FOIPOP? The desired intent of this ludicrous idea could only have been to keep salary increases below the radar so as not to be picked up by the taxpayer. Yet Mr. Wrye says these extraordinary steps were not taken to deceive people.
    I agree with the point that council have been much too acquiescent . It’s mind boggling, even embarrassing and I can only hope for positive changes as the newer members become more experienced. For the others there’s no hope at all.

  13. Robert Wrye

    Not wanting to make this the Neverending Story I would comment that I am not apologizing for the Mayor or anyone else. I am simply laying out some facts for anyone interested. Believe them, don’t believe them, it’s up to you.
    1. The Mayor is not the FOIPOP officer and does not call the shots. The CAO is by law but designated another staff member to handle that responsibility years ago.
    2. I no longer have the letter and do not know what is blacked out. I do know that there are some matters that are not POIPOPable.
    3. The Mayor negotiated with the CAO on the instructions of Council. Council calls the shots. The Mayor speaks on Council’s behalf. As you say let’s not shoot the messenger.
    4. No one suggested, discussed, or hinted at doing anything in any manner in an attempt to deceive anyone about anything.

    Those are facts and not apologies.

  14. Regretfully, Mr. Wrye neglected to answer my questions.
    Let’s forget about FOIPOP, let’s ignore the fact that somebody other than the CAO (although somebody reporting directly to him) is the local grunt man for FIOPOP at town hall.
    It’s a side issue, a distraction.
    The first key question that I raised, still unanswered, is why the matter of the mayor’s letter had to be referred to FOIPOP in the first place? Clearly, we have evidence that information to which the public is entitled, is being hidden. How else can such a runaround be perceived? And it was important enough to the mayor (or mayor and council?) to offer to pay all court costs of some $ 17,000 in taxpayers’ money to avoid airing the information. Mr. Becker, who must be a brave man, didn’t fall for the ploy.
    The second key question, still unanswered, is: who dreamed up the the ridiculous idea of increasing the taxpayers’ portion of the CAO’s pension plan contributions to l8 % when it sends a signal of a cover-up to hide the real size of the overall increase in his package?
    The above examples represent the kind of thing I have been complaining of, regretfully without progress, for over ten years.
    Whatever happened to openness, transparency and frankness? How can I reconcile what the town is doing with point 4 of Mr. Wrye’s letter today?

  15. Larry Lynch

    For the special attention of Bob Wrye.
    A further comment.
    I went to a town meeting today as the issue of Question Period was on the agenda. On this issue Carl Oldham protested against a recently instituted policy imposed unilaterally by the mayor with the intention of muzzling comments from spectators. Carl had never been consulted in a decision which must surely require council approval!
    Carl strongly objected. In fact, three councillors, led by Carl Oldham followed by Keith Irving and Jim Laceby protested strongly against recent restrictions in public participation at public meetings, imposed by the mayor without prior consultation with the council.
    The three councillors all said they were caught off guard and had never been consulted about the point.
    Surprisingly, Mr . Wrye told me just recently that “council calls the shots” and ” the mayor speaks on council’s behalf.” and “don’t shoot the messenger.”
    Yeah, right.