Ottawa

U.S. pundit Coulter's Ottawa visit draws fire

American conservative Ann Coulter's three-day Canadian university tour has drawn the University of Ottawa into a debate about free speech.

American conservative Ann Coulter's three-day Canadian university tour has drawn the University of Ottawa into a debate over the limits of free speech.

Coulter, a political commentator and author best known for taking controversial stances, is scheduled to speak at Marion Hall at the University of Ottawa on Tuesday.

Among Coulter's more contentious assertions is that the U.S. should invade Muslim countries and convert their people to Christianity. She has also suggested Canada is lucky the U.S. allows it "to exist on the same continent."

The University of Ottawa's student federation wants the administration to keep Coulter off campus, arguing she crosses the line between what is and isn't acceptable.

Coulter warned to 'weigh words'

"A university environment needs to be a place where we can have a free discussion of ideas," said Seamus Wolfe, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

"A university campus should not be the kind of place where we simply use that type of language to condone hate speech."

Wolfe wants the university to move the event to another location.

University administrators could not be reached for comment. However, the National Post says François Houle, the university's vice-president academic and provost, wrote a letter to Coulter, warning her "to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind."

Houle in his letter warned Coulter that "promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."

'They are trying to shut her up'

Canadian conservative activist Ezra Levant says the student federation's attempt to muzzle Coulter is "fascist" and goes against the spirit of academic freedom.

"To have a public institution turned into a private club where the only [people] allowed to speak are allowed to meet the very narrow approval of some student politician … that's gross," said Levant, who is introducing Coulter at her three visits.

"They seem to be for diversity in every sense except for intellectual diversity. They just can't debate Ann Coulter, so they are trying to shut her up."

One of the groups organizing Coulter's Canadian tour, the International Free Press Society Canada, says it's committed to exposing people to what it calls "a diversity of views."

American right-wing antagonist Ann Coulter spoke to about 800 people at the University of Western Ontario in London Monday night.

Coulter is also scheduled to speak at the University of Calgary on Wednesday.