- 3 Questions for London mayoral candidates re Mark Steyn cancellation by London Convention Centre
- Who’s telling the truth about Mark Steyn cancellation, Part 2
[UPDATED Oct 22/10]
Why I decided to get involved in this story
The cancellation of Mark Steyn’s Nov 01/10 appearance at the London Convention Centre because, according to organizer Andrew Lawton of Strictly Right, the venue had received pressure from Muslim groups raised not one of my eyebrows, but both:
Firstly, because I live in London and drive past the facility every day; secondly because we (CANACE founders) have been denied rooms by the Deseronto Legion; Town of Deseronto [ALSO]; Pickton Elks; Caledonia Lions Hall; and the City of Brantford due to outright intimidation by native extremists and OPP officers and/or the fear of such intimidation.
(To its great credit, the Cayuga Lions Club refused to knuckle under to the OPP intimidation. For the record, not one of our events has ever turned violent.)
I first met (and filmed) Gary McHale on the grass of the Brantford Lions Park (L) because the mayor reneged on the rental agreement the city had with him for the hall in which he planned to explain his reasons for organizing his seminal Oct 15/06 inaugural March for Freedom in Caledonia against ‘Two Tier Justice.’ As a former member of the Canadian Forces who served in a peacekeeping mission I was absolutely incensed at the idea of our cherished free speech being abused or limited by elected officials.
After the town of Deseronto refused to rent to us or residents who wanted to hear what we had to say, our host rented the Pickton Elks hall who, after being visited by OPP officers, reneged as well.
McHale was forced to speak on the grass in a remote park in Picton with no police presence whatsoever – surrounded by supporters/members of Shawn Brant’s gang who actually applauded when he began talking about the attempted murder of a police officer in Caledonia, and then made it impossible for him to speak by shouting him down. It was a very tense situation but we kept our cool and, fortunately, there were media present to witness the situation which kept a lid on things. We actually had some good conversations despite the hostility – no thanks to the OPP which put us at risk in the first place.
As the founder of the Caledonia Victims Project I am now doing my best to help those concerned about the appeasement of intimidation tactics by Islamic extremists understand the eerie parallels between that issue and the intimidation of free speech in Caledonia in the interest of uniting the two camps, so this story captured my interest immediately.
After four years of coping with the most egregious examples of shoddy, biased ‘journalism’ in Caledonia (the Brantford Expositor’s use of a Christmas carol to make fun of Gary McHale’s injuries after he was sent to hospital after being attacked by Six Nations supporters of an illegal smokeshack has to rank at the bottom of the barrel) however, I am inclined to want to hear the other side of an important he-said/she-said story.
So, after reading the Strictly Right account of how their room was cancelled I called LCC General Manager Lori Da Silva to get her side of the story.
Lori Da Silva, General Mgr tells LCC version of events
- LCC never had a contract for the Mark Steyn event and no money exchanged hands.
- They sent out a ‘Client Profile’ form, but the organizers didn’t return it.
- They had no pressure whatsoever from Muslims.
- They were not threatened by anyone.
- They were not contacted by police or advised by police to cancel. They never even spoke to the police, let alone be intimidated by them.
- They had a call from the organizers seeking space, sent a client profile to them, but did not receive the completed form from them.
- The event was cancelled solely because they felt the event (800-1,000, according to Da Silva) was too large and potentially noisy which could interfere with the enjoyment of the facility by other users. I asked if the facility had a problem accommodating 1,000 guests to which she replied, No, they were just worried about disturbing other users of the venue. The word ‘security’ or phrase ‘security concerns’ did not come up during our conversation.
- Da Silva made no mention to me of Board of Directors involvment in the decision not to rent the room for the Steyn event.
- They had offered suggestions for other non-LCC venues to the organizers.
I then contacted Andrew Lawton of Strictly Right.
Andrew Lawton shares Strictly Right version of events
- SR had no contact w/GM Lori Da Silva. Their contact was a man he did not wish to identify because the contact had no real authority over the decision-making process at LCC and did not want to embarrass him.
- SR first contacted LCC on Thursday, Oct 14/10 because they were concerned that registrations were exceeding the capacity of their original room at University of Western Ontario.
- SR was “up front with them,” informing them that the speaker was Mark Steyn, that he was “controversial” and that they would provide security. LCC said it had the space, that they could join the two ballrooms on the upper level and that it could “quite easily” accommodate the event “no problem.”
- On Monday, Oct 18/10 SR told LCC to go ahead with the booking and was told it was reserved. They reminded their contact that the event would be controversial and that they were investing a lot of money on security. LCC then sent a ‘Client Profile’ to SR on Monday evening.
- On Tuesday morning, before they had had a chance to complete the detailed form (just 12 hours receiving it) SR was called and told they were not getting the room after all due to pressure from local Muslims and because the Board of Directors did not want to alienate Muslim clients.
VoC Comment – who’s telling the truth?
The London Convention Centre and Strictly Right are telling very different versions of this story. If I take LCC’s Da Silva at her word that the event wasn’t cancelled out of fear or intimidation by Muslims, then her argument that London’s premier venue turned down a large, revenue-generating event simply because it didn’t want to disturb other users is just plain silly, which is why I asked her to confirm that it could accommodate 1,000 people. What’s the point of having a convention centre if it can’t rent rooms within its capacity?
How can a room full of people listening to a guy making a speech be any more disturbing than, say, an Amway rally or ‘Sexapalooza – The FUN show for Adults‘ which the LCC hosted in February 2009?
“The LCC can host all types of events, including yours. No matter what size you have in mind, we’re nothing if not accommodating. Wedding, meeting, tradeshow, gala or, convention, we have the experience and the expertise to make any function run smoothly. If you require special decorating, entertainment or audiovisual services, we’re able to match just about every request. And though not often requested, we even have the capability of putting a semi-trailer truck on the second floor! Whatever your request, you can rest assured that your event will be a success.”
- London Convention Centre: Planning>Event Type
In law, there is a concept that lawyers and judges call “the ring of truth” which is another way of saying, ‘If it makes sense, it’s probably true.” In my opinion, the LCC’s version of events just doesn’t make sense, there has to be more to their rejection than a concern about disturbing other guests. If Andrew Lawton and/or Lori Da Silva wish to comment further I’ll be happy to post their responses.
Thank you to Blazing Cat Fur for notifying readers of this story which prompted me to follow up.
The good news…
Fortunately for those who want to hear Mark Steyn, Strictly Right was able to secure a new, larger venue so fans of Mark Steyn will be able to hear him speak:
Strictly Right presents Mark Steyn
Speech: ‘Head for The Hills: Why Everything In Your World is Doomed’
550 Wellington Street, London, Ontario [MAP]
Monday, Nov 01/10, Doors open at 7:00PM, event starts 7:30PM
Must register in advance by sending names to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Strictly Right: BREAKING: Conference facility caves to pressure from Islamic groups, bans Mark Steyn from speaking
- Strictly Right: Strictly Right Presents Mark Steyn!
- Strictly Right: www.StrictlyRight.com
- London Convention Centre: www.londoncc.com
- Mark Steyn/SteynOnline, Oct 22/10: And so it begins…
- Mark Steyn: www.SteynOnline.com
Oct 23/10 – Strictly Right: Andrew Lawton and Michael Coren on the Mark Steyn controversy
Oct 23/10 – Mark Steyn -SteynOnline.com: Sexapalooza, yes; Steynapalooza, no
Oct 22/10 – New ‘Steynapalooza’ Banner at SteynOnline.com (above)
Oct 22/10 – VoiceofCanada: Who’s telling the truth about Mark Steyn, Part 2
Oct 22/10: Deborah Gyapong: Sexapalooza! but no Mark Steyn (Deborah is a 20 year journalist; 12 yrs exp w/CBC news & current affairs programming)
Oct 22/10 – Moose and Squirrel: De facto dhimmitude in the Forest City
Oct 22/10 – Blazing Cat Fur: Sexapalooza OK – Mark Steyn BAD
Oct 22/10 – SteynOnline: Mark Steyn cites VoC story in an updated version of And so it begins…:
It’s fascinating to me how little you have to do to be a Controversial Author. As Ann Coulter, Lars Vilks and other among the Canceled Class have learned, “security concerns” are the new black(out). From the Post‘s story:
London Convention Centre general manager Lori Da Silva said denying next month’s Mark Steyn speech was a “business decision” in part due to concerns for security, and fairness for the centre’s other clients who might not enjoy a “rowdy” crowd at the same time. Asked if the content of Mr. Steyn’s work had anything to do with the Convention Centre’s decision, general manager replied, “No, we’re looking at the security risk.”
As Scaramouche responds: No, you’re looking at the empty pouch where your stones used to be.
And, as the Voice of Canada wonders, how could a dull man in a suit giving a speech be any more “rowdy” or disruptive to “the centre’s other clients” than the LCC-hosted Sexapalooza?
- Oct 22/10 – National Post – Centre refuses to host Steyn lecture on free speech:
- Oct 21/10: NewsRealBlog, by Kathy Shaidle: Mark Steyn banned from speaking after Muslims complain
There’s something about London, Ontario. It was the scene of Ann Coulter’s world-famous “Take a camel!” speech earlier this year. And in 2009, when Ezra Levant, Salim Mansur and I were scheduled to speak there, we were “banned” from one venue, found a bigger one — and sold out all 600 seats. That was after a smear campaign against me run by some powerful Canadian Liberal Party types, and abetted by the local paper, the London Free Press (which recently caved to Muslim pressures and pulled an important story.)