Blair Crawford, National Post, June 13, 2018
The organizer of a screening of the controversial film Killing Europe at the Ottawa Public Library last November has applied for a judicial review of the library’s decision to cancel the showing.
Madeline Weld claims in her application, which was filed Monday in Toronto, that the library’s decision to cancel “violated (her) constitutional right to free expression” as well as the rights of the audience to see the film.
Weld argues the library “acted arbitrarily and unreasonably” by cancelling the screening and asks the court to force the library to allow the film to be shown.
Weld, a retired public servant, booked the film on behalf of ACT for Canada, an organization that says it wishes “to defend our country by speaking out in defence of our democratic values, our security and our liberty against the rise of Islamism.”
Weld is the founder of the organization’s Ottawa chapter, according to her online biography. She is also founder of Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms, an organization opposed to M-103, the federal government’s non-binding anti-Islamophobia motion, which passed in March 2017.
Killing Europe is a documentary by Danish ex-patriate Michael Hansen, which purports to warn of the dangers of the “Islamification” of Europe. Hansen was scheduled to give a talk after the Ottawa screening.
Critics of the film call it thinly veiled hate speech and complained to the library that the screening violated Ontario’s Human Rights Code and the library’s own policy to deny events that “are likely to promote discrimination, contempt or hatred to any person on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, family status, sexual preference, or disability, gratuitous sex and violence or denigration of the human condition.”
The library initially agreed to the screening but reversed the decision under public pressure, including a letter sent to the library and city council by prominent Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman.
The library has found itself a battleground in the ongoing debate over free speech versus hate speech. In March, a planned talk by right wing University of Ottawa professor Janice Fiamengo was disrupted by anti-fascist protesters who demonstrated against her appearance and eventually pulled a fire alarm, forcing the building to be evacuated.
A spokeswoman said Wednesday afternoon that the library would have no comment on the court application.