Mark Steyn, the cross-border conservative writer, commentator and humorist, closed the Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa on Saturday afternoon with an impassioned defense of free speech.
Steyn particularly focused on the recent introduction of Motion M-103 in the Canadian Parliament, potential legislation that “is not benign and harmless; it will lead to more violence because it says you cannot discuss these issues in public. In countries where there is no free speech, shooting, killing and violence are the only ways to make your opinions known,” he said.
M-103 is an anti-“Islamophobia” motion that critics say will criminalize all criticism of Muslims, including Islamic extremist terrorists.
“I am a phobe about phobias,” said Steyn, noting that if you wait long enough “there’ll be a new phobia” for whatever liberals want people to stop discussing.
He didn’t spare environmentalists and the “cartoon climatology” extremists like Canadian activist David Suzuki who “want to lock-up everybody who doesn’t agree with him. There are other people who think you should be killed for disagreeing with them.”
Steyn referenced the burgeoning refugee crisis on the border with the U.S., suggesting that Canada was becoming a nation that was losing its identity: “when no one is illegal then no one is legal.”
Turning his attention to the increasing political correctness at universities in North America, Steyn ridiculed the tendency for academic institutions to “create another safe space” every time they object to something a student says.
He decried he lack of discussion at colleges, saying that “fewer people think there should be a difference of opinion but only one opinion on every issue…only weak ideas need protection from criticism.”
“Sometimes a society becomes too stupid to survive,” he said to uproarious applause and cheering from the audience.
Steyn interspersed his lecture with some lively jazz music and opened with a stand-up comedy routine that lampooned the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race that Steyn joked had been “going on now for about 150 years.”
When an audience member asked Steyn about anarchist groups in Canada who are advocating that all cities be declared “sanctuary cities,” Steyn said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “more dangerous because he told the New York Times that there is no mainstream in Canada and he knows better than that.”
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