Free Speech on Ottawa Transpo: Letter to Ottawa Transit Commission

Email message to the members of the Ottawa Transit Commission, 19 November 2013. This text has not previously been published.


To: Councillor Diane Deans, Councillor Shad Qadri, Councillor Stephen Blais, Councillor Rainer Bloess, Councillor Keith Egli, Councillor Katherine Hobbs, Councillor Tim Tierney, Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, Mr. Blair Crew, Mr. Justin Ferrabee, Mr. Mark Johnson, Ms. Emily Rahn, Mayor Jim Watson

Date: 19 Nov 2013, 19:56.


Dear Ottawa Transit Commission Members,

I am writing to convey to you my support for the ReThink911 advertising campaign, which I believe is performing an important service of public information. I would like also to ensure that you are aware of a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada which has a direct bearing on this matter.

I address you as an expert in the subject matter under consideration. I have published on the material evidence relating to the events of September 11, 2001, in essays that have appeared in a peer-reviewed book and in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, and also in papers delivered at scholarly conferences in Canada, Mexico, and Finland. I have lectured on matters relating to 9/11 at universities in Sweden and Germany, as well as at several Canadian universities, and have made media appearances on the subject, including on Steve Paikin's TVO program The Agenda.

Although I am not aware of the precise wording of the ReThink911 ads, I am familiar with other public information materials produced by this campaign and by the originating organization, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. The material of theirs that I have seen and read has been unfailingly evidence-based, scientifically accurate, and sensitive to the suffering of victims of the crimes of 9/11 and the concerns of family members.

Any suggestion that the ReThink911 ads might violate “standards of community acceptability” would be mistaken, for the following reasons:

1) Materials-science analyses published by physicists, chemists, and engineers have demonstrated that the “official account” of the destruction of World Trade Center buildings 1, 2, and 7 contained in such texts as The 9/11 Commission Report and the reports published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is false. (It is now, for example, an unchallenged fact that for more than two seconds of its collapse, WTC 7 was in a condition of free-fall acceleration. The only hypothesis that can explain this fact is one of planned demolition.) Significantly, the materials-science analyses to which I refer have not been challenged in peer-reviewed studies.

2) A growing body of scholarly opinion in the United States (as evidenced by scholarly books and peer-reviewed essays published in journals of established reputation) is moving to the view that the appropriate analytical framework for contextual study of the events of 9/11 is one in which these events are understood to belong to the category of “state crimes against democracy.”

3) It may be possible to find journalists, demagogues, and even some academics who are willing to apply abusive terms like “conspiracy theory” to the scientific and scholarly work alluded to above. You will discover, in nearly every case, that such people are not acquainted with the scientific and scholarly work in question, and have no comparable publications in the field to their own credit. What weight should their opinions carry?

4) The fact that studies in some particular area are regarded by significant numbers of people as unsettling or controversial does not mean that they can be labelled as violating standards of community acceptability. Large numbers of people in the United States, possibly even a majority, reject the conclusions of evolutionary biologists and climate scientists. Would that put biology and climate science outside the standards of community acceptability?

Perhaps more importantly, I believe there have been suggestions that OC Transpo should change its advertising standards so as to make it more difficult for public education campaigns like ReThink911 to place public transit ads.

It is crucial for you to understand that such a change would be a direct violation of Canadian law. On July 10, 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case “B.C. Transit v. Canadian Federation of Students.” That decision applies directly and unambiguously to the present situation.

Grace Pastine, Litigation Director for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), which appeared as an intervener in the case, commented when the decision was announced that the Supreme Court “has squarely rejected the notion that Canadians need to be shielded from political debate in public spaces. It also sends a strong message to all government-related bodies that control speech in public spaces that they must not violate Charter rights, including the freedom of expression.”

Chris Sanderson, the lawyer who appeared for the BCCLA in the case, remarked that “This decision is significant in at least two respects. First, it clearly establishes that the government cannot shirk its Charter obligations by conferring powers on another entity. Second, the judgement contains a ringing endorsement of a long held BCCLA position that it is not the business of government to approve or disapprove of what Canadians say unless the government can demonstrate that to do so is justifiable in a free and democratic society, something the government was unable to show in this case.”

Given that such a clear precedent has been established by Canada's highest court, I urge you to do the obvious and straightforward thing, and to act according to the rule of Canadian law.

Yours sincerely and respectfully,

Michael Keefer
Professor Emeritus, School of English and Theatre Studies. University of Guelph