MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“The Fight for Free Speech Continues in Afghanistan…and here in Canada”
Today of all days. Today, as I was contemplating how to best convey my sympathies to the family of Prince George’s own Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick. There in my morning paper was an article outlining the actions of 16 professors at the University of Regina that offended me and is an affront to every Canadian soldier!
Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick was just 21-years-old when he died on Saturday. He succumbed to injuries he suffered in a blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan on March 6th. Cpl. Fitzpatrick, a member of the 3rd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, fought to live long enough at a hospital in Edmonton to say good-bye to his family.
According to his commanding officer, Cpl. Fitzpatrick’s family’s one request was that “his sacrifice be acknowledged”. I know that I join the residents in Prince George and ‘most’ Canadians in recognizing Cpl. Fitzpatrick’s bravery and honouring his willingness to sacrifice his safety to help bring peace, security and freedom to the people of Afghanistan.
And yet….in Regina, a group of professors published an open letter asking for the withdrawal of Project Hero, a scholarship program for the children of our fallen soldiers.
Apparently, these “learned” individuals who influence the minds of their pupils every day, think “this program is a glorification of Canadian imperialism in Afghanistan” and they believe that the Afghan mission is “a military occupation of sovereign country.” They don’t even like the name of the scholarship, Project Hero, because it might imply that Canada’s military activity in Afghanistan is heroic.
Our soldiers serving in Afghanistan ARE HEROIC! And I find the views of these professors offensive and insulting. However…they have the right to express their opinion. Do they not see the irony in the fact that they owe their right to this free speech to the willingness of our soldiers to fight for fundamental freedoms.
While the professors’ right to air their views is respected by their employer, the University of Regina has refused to capitulate and the scholarship program will remain in place.
Unfortunately, the issue of freedom of speech has played out much differently in another province. Ann Coulter’s views are offensive to many in Canada and around the world. I don’t agree with her controversial approach nor many of her opinions. However, she has the right to speak her mind. That’s not just the American way…it’s the Canadian way and it’s enshrined in OUR laws.
Coulter delivered a speech at the University of Western Ontario on Monday and was scheduled to speak at the University of Ottawa the next day. Instead, threats of violent action and protest by those who disagree with her views, forced the cancellation of her appearance. Her opponents should not view this as a victory.
This is a case of “free speech for some but not others”. Mob rule and the threat of violence defeated free speech in Canada this week. How ironic that our soldiers are in Afghanistan right now fighting for the right of the Afghan people to freely express their opinions without fear of harm.