Canadian Official Threatens to Prosecute Ann Coulter

Monday, 22 Mar 2010 12:36 AM

By David A. Patten

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A Canadian university official is warning that best-selling conservative author Ann Coulter could be prosecuted -- for a speech she hasn’t even delivered yet.

The conservative firebrand, whose most recent best-seller is “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America,” has received an invitation to address the university’s Campus Conservatives group.

Coulter frequently speaks to college conservatives and other organizations. But this is probably the first time she’s been threatened with criminal prosecution for a speech she hasn’t even delivered yet.

The apparent threat or warning came in an e-mail sent Friday afternoon by Francois Houle, the academic vice president and provost of the University of Ottawa.

Coulter’s response to the warning, provided in an e-mail to Newsmax: “The provost of the u. of Ottawa is threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech there on Monday -- before I've even set foot in the country!”

According to the e-mail that Coulter forwarded to Newsmax, Houle says that while the university welcomes speakers and their free expression of ideas, “Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression.”

Houle then states: “For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. Outside of the criminal realm, Canadian defamation laws also limit freedom of expression and may differ somewhat from those to which you are accustomed.

“I therefore ask you,” Houle continued, “while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind. There is a strong tradition in Canada, including at this university, of restraint, respect and consideration in expressing even provocative and controversial opinions and urge you to respect that Canadian tradition while on our campus.”

In his parting shot, Houle remarked, “Hopefully, you will understand and agree that what may, at first glance, seem like unnecessary restrictions to freedom of expression do, in fact, lead not only to a more civilized discussion, but to a more meaningful, reasoned and intelligent one as well.”

The University of Ottawa Campus Conservatives’ Facebook page hardly sounds like the type of organization that would be promulgating hate speech. It describes its mission as promoting “universal Canadian value like freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, as well as question the size of and role that government should play in the life of Canadians.”

Newsmax contacted Houle’s office Sunday evening, and left an inquiry as to whether liberal speakers receive similar e-mails warning of possible criminal prosecution, prior to speaking on campus. There was no immediate response and the office was presumably closed for the weekend.

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