Politics

EDITORIAL: Censorship at Canada’s largest school board

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While Canada’s biggest school board hasn’t yet started burning books that it disagrees with, it appears to be well on its way to doing so.

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The Toronto public school board recently vetoed its students from participating in a book club featuring a memoir by one of Canada’s most prominent lawyers and another book by a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Why? Because, as reported by the Globe and Mail , the board’s “equity” department objected to its students hearing from Toronto lawyer Marie Henein and discussing her memoir, Nothing But the Truth with them, because she successfully defended Jian Ghomeshi on sex assault charges in 2016.

Apparently unaware that a fundamental principle of our justice system, to say nothing of democracy, is that everyone charged with a crime is entitled to a defence, the board’s “equity” department reportedly said hearing from Henein would send a bad message to “little girls”.

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The board then further distinguished itself by disallowing its students from participating in a discussion with Nobel prize-winning human rights activist Nadia Murad about her book, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State because it would promote Islamophobia.

Apparently, the Toronto school board either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that Islamic State is considered a terrorist organization by Canada, one that terrorizes Muslims, especially Muslim girls.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

This bizarre story of censorship comes courtesy of Tanya Lee, organizer of A Room of Your Own Book Club, which invites teenage girls, many from low-income families, to read a book and then discuss it virtually with the author.

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As for the Toronto school board, after the story was published it issued a tortured apology saying it was all an unfortunate misunderstanding.

To wit: “An opinion that did not reflect the position of the Toronto District School Board was shared with the organizer of the book club, prior to staff having an opportunity to read the books” and that when they do actually read them they will no doubt approve them because Henein and Murad have “powerful stories to tell” from which students will “learn a great deal”.

Right. Whatever.

As Henein emailed the Globe in response to the board’s actions: “There are words for this. Misunderstanding is not one of them.”

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