Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I love this story of Michael Ignatieff. "Teach Ins". What a Novel Idea

There was an interesting story in the Winnipeg Free Press this week: Liberal leader Ignatieff came under gaze of RCMP spies as a student in Toronto.

(Photo: Ignatieff on left, Bob Rae in centre, Jeff Rose on right)

What sparked the RCMP's attention was Ignatieff's anti-war protests and his interest in "thinkers". He organized "teach ins".
RCMP spies kept a watchful eye over Michael Ignatieff as he organized a major academic conference during his student days, newly declassified records show. A memo drafted by the Mounties' counter-subversion branch cites the Liberal leader's involvement in planning a "teach-in" on religion and international affairs, one of three such events he worked on as an undergraduate.

The RCMP Security Service monitored the activities of students, professors and councils on university campuses across the country during the Cold War in a bid to detect Communist influence. Ignatieff said although he doesn't want to second-guess what the Mounties were doing, the teach-ins were open and frank public dialogues. "They may have had some idea that we were all subversive radicals, but we were anything but," he said Sunday in an interview.

"We had these teach-ins in which we got really important world figures to come and debate the issues. It was incredibly exciting to be part of it. And what was great about them is that faculty and students worked hand in hand as equals."
This speaks to our generation. We baby boomers who were part of the Peace Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. Even if we didn't physically attend the rallies they shaped our views. An age when a free flow of ideas was welcomed.

Contrast that to the 'Harper' government erasing all mention of Canada being a safe haven for Vietnam draft dodgers.

Or Anthony Panayi, now calling himself Tony Clement, inviting South African ambassador Glenn Babb to speak at the University of Toronto, in favour of the continued South African Apartheid. The university flatly refused, so instead he created his own society, and invited the controversial ambassador, as a way "to ensure that advocates of Apartheid were heard in this country." (1)

Believe it or not there was a time in Canada, when we could protest against war, or even for apartheid, and not get beaten up for our efforts.

What passes for a "thinkers" conference these days, is the media providing the oxygen to breath life into a story suggesting that Justin Trudeau supports "honour killings" and "genitalia mutilation", because he took offense to the word "barbaric" in a government citizenship guide.

If it can't be stuffed into a gun barrel or blown out some one's butt, it no longer merits consideration. Welcome to the 'New Canada'. Welcome to 'Harperland'. No "thinking" allowed.


1. The Age of Dissent: Socialists, peaceniks, feminists, rabble-rousers: They came in search of an education. They left having taught the old school a thing or two, By Margaret Webb, University of Toronto Magazine, Spring 2002

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