Free speech demonstration
Archived Articles 24 Mar 2006 Adu RaudkiviEWR
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Journalist Peter Kent addressing a crowd in front of the Danish Consulate in Toronto on the issue of free speech.
 Photo: Adu Raudkivi - pics/2006/12843_1.jpg
Journalist Peter Kent addressing a crowd in front of the Danish Consulate in Toronto on the issue of free speech. Photo: Adu Raudkivi
A demonstration was held in front of the Danish Consulate, in Toronto, this time in support of the Danish and for free speech, on March 11, 2006 at noon.

"We're not here to discuss the cartoons (derogatory to Islam published in a Danish paper) but free speech. People can take whatever view they want on the cartoons. We're here to discuss the need for free speech," said Daniel Dale, a York University student, who helped organize the demonstration.

The main speaker was Peter Kent, former newsman with CBC, NBC and Global before being a Conservative candidate in the last federal election in the riding of St. Paul’s,Toronto.

"I haven't been to Tallinn since the late eighties, when I was with NBC," said Kent.

" I am proud and honoured to be here today representing the Canadian Coalition for Democracy, founded in 2003, which is a non-partisan, multi ethnic, multi-denomonational group of concerned Canadians dedicated for the protection and promotion of democracy here at home and around the world. CCD works to influence both the Canadian political process and public opinion to achieve a more pro democracy foreign policy. Senior members of the CCD are members of every major group and everything in between. The uniting principle is democracy," explained Kent.

"Canada is very justifiably proud of the rights enshrined in its Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and of course the foremost is the right of free speech. It is a right that is for some level-headed, fairminded Canadians a difficult, unpleasant -sometimes dangerous right - and that is because there are so many preconceptions of what exactly free speech means. Some believe that free speech should be limited when it offends or when it might be seen as inciting dangerous tendencies. Every idea can be seen as incitement for sombody somewhere in the world unless the cause what lawyers call a clear and present danger, like the inciting a genocidal danger towards an identifable group," defined Kent.

"The most eloquent definition of free speech was expressed by the famous jurist and legal scholar Louis Brandeis who said, 'Free speech allows the right to express even the opinions we loathe.' Any democracy worth its salt should be strong enough to endure the most controversial speech. That speech cannot be corrupted or compromised or silenced by intimidation or threat of violent reprisal," said Kent.

"We in Canada have the right to offend and to be offended. We do not have the right to respond to offense with violence," added Kent.

"The CCD does not support the cartoons that have been so hurtful and offensive to adherents of many great religions. We do believe emphatically and fiercely in a free press and in a free speech. We are here to demonstrate our support for Denmark and its citizens and interests around the world. We stand here to ask Canada to stand for free speech here and around the world," said Kent.

We thank Mr. Kent for the reminder on free speech. Now we should start dealing with violators who are our trading partners and who we treat as peers.
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