US & Canada

Toronto university cancels 'free speech' event after Charlottesville

University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson
Image caption Dr Jordan Peterson was set to speak at an event at Ryerson University, which has since been cancelled

A Canadian university has cancelled an event on the "stifling of free speech", citing safety concerns following the violent protests in Charlottesville.

Featuring controversial speaker Faith Goldy, the event was organised by a visiting Ryerson University tutor.

But on Wednesday, the school cancelled the 22 August event because it said it could not guarantee public safety.

The clashes in the US claimed one woman's life when a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascists.

A spokesperson said the university was "prioritising safety" over free speech "in light of recent events".

"There is often a tension at universities resulting from our commitment to be a place for free speech and our commitment to be a place that is civil, safe, and welcoming. In light of recent events, Ryerson University is prioritising campus safety," said university spokesperson Michael Forbes in an email.

Mr Forbes said a part-time instructor had rented a room on campus to host the event, but that after conducting a standard safety review, the university decided that "Ryerson is not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event to go forward".

The event was to feature controversial speakers Faith Goldy, Jordan Peterson and Gad Saad.

Faith Goldy is a journalist and political commentator with Canada's right-wing digital news site Rebel Media. In June, Goldy broadcast a YouTube video arguing that immigration policies were contributing to a "white genocide" in Canada.

While covering Charlottesville over the weekend for Rebel Media, she appeared to sympathize with many of the ideas espoused by the protesters.

Since then, the Rebel's founder Ezra Levant has publically denounced the so-called "alt-right," and a number of freelance journalists with the Rebel have announced they will no longer work for the organization.

University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson has made a name for himself campaigning against Canada's new transgender rights laws.

Gad Saad is a business professor who writes about how sex differences affect the consumer and argues against political correctness.

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