Audience at the University of Waterloo lashes out against protesters
What was scheduled as a speech by Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford turned sour tonight as protesters opposing the journalist's new book Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us took over the stage.
Three protesters locked themselves together at the centre of the stage where Blatchford was meant to speak at the University of Waterloo’s (UW) Humanities Theatre in Hagey Hall, with another individual acting as their “negotiator”. A fifth, Tallula Marigold, acted as the group’s media representative.
“We don’t want people who are really, really racist teaching [the people we love],” said Marigold of Blatchford. “And we don’t want that person to have a public forum because it makes it dangerous for others in the public forum.”
Despite a crowd that acted unfavourably towards the group that took over the stage, assistant director of media relations for UW Michael Strickland addressed the audience about an hour after Blatchford was meant to start her talk to inform them that the event would be rescheduled.
“Unfortunately there is a small minority that felt that they would win if they’d just sit on the stage and yell ‘racist, racist, racist’,” said Strickland. “We made a determination that since she wasn’t going to get a word in, in any sort of respectful fashion, there would be no point in bringing her out and having her subjected to that.”
A group of individuals had organized a teach-in two hours before Blatchford’s speech, held in a room across the hall from where the event was to take place. There, a group of about 30 individuals engaged in a critical discussion of the journalist's articles and the issues surrounding what some deemed racist, xenophobic and anti-native. In sharp contrast, yelling and cursing occurred between audience members and those on stage only hours later.
Although Blatchford’s event will be rescheduled, there was a general feel in the audience of distaste for what had transpired. Among those saddened by the events were Waterloo resident Pauline Campbell and former Wilfrid Laurier University student Jacob Pries.
“The people who were on stage were expressing some very real ideas that I to a degree agree with but they weren’t backing them up with any facts and that made it hard for people to listen,” said Pries.
“That wasn’t the night I came out to hear and I mean just it’s a load of garbage, calling people Nazis, it was very unpleasant,” said Campbell.
With the event cancelled and Blatchford returning back to Toronto, Marigold expressed her contentment with the events that had transpired.
“Our goal was to not let her speak, we accomplished that.”