Personal safety, and security of the person, is a fundamental right that all Canadians proudly share and defend the world over. This right is especially important in our places of education and learning. Generations of students passing through institutions of learning have celebrated the right to assembly and free speech, but also understood the benefits and the responsibilities that accompany these rights.
Regretfully a proliferation of hate, intimidation and harassment of Jewish students at York University, has infringed on these most basic and universal rights. The deteriorating situation is one which is unacceptable and must not continue. As Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre stated in the House of Commons on February 13th, this new example of hatred, “lies below the surface of the public discourse waiting, waiting for us to let our guard down, waiting for the outrage to subside, waiting for the right time to flourish. We must confront it, fight it, and defeat it”. Clearly this dangerous situation runs counter to the principles of tolerance and diversity that are apparently integral to the character of York and must be addressed.
In no uncertain terms, the York University Administration is responsible for maintaining an appropriate academic and social environment while ensuring the safety of every person who enters its grounds. History clearly shows that true learning cannot happen in an atmosphere of fear and terror. Every Canadian student, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality or ethnicity deserves the right to an education free of intimidation and harassment.
Recent events have seriously damaged the reputation of York University. For an institution which is one of Canada’s leading places of scholarly learning, this is a dangerous and unfortunate development. I encourage the administration to do everything in its power to protect and defend the safety of students of all beliefs and background and return this important university to the high standards for learning its students deserve.