London, Ontario Convention Centre Refuses to Host Controversial Speaker

The National Post – October 22, 2010

Organizers of an upcoming talk by conservative writer Mark Steyn planned for London, Ont., say they were muzzled by a local city-owned convention centre. A trio of bloggers who run the site StrictlyRight.com inquired about booking a Nov. 1 speech for Mr. Steyn at the London Convention Centre. The group announced that it had received a phone call from the centre saying it would not be allowed to make the booking. The Convention Centre said it was a business decision, but organizers of the speech said they were told otherwise.

“The reason offered by the LCC was that they had received pressure from local Islamic groups, and they didn’t want to alienate their Muslim clients. It’s interesting to note that the LCC is owned by the City of London, and is therefore a government operation,” wrote Strictly Right’s Andrew Lawton at the website.

Mr. Steyn’s talk will explore his familiar themes of Muslims and free speech. London Convention Centre general manager Lori Da Silva said denying next month’s Mark Steyn speech was a “business decision” in part due to concerns for security, and fairness for the centre’s other clients who might not enjoy a “rowdy” crowd at the same time. Asked if the content of Mr. Steyn’s work had anything to do with the Convention Centre’s decision, general manager replied, “No, we’re looking at the security risk.” Mr. Steyn’s best-seller, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, warns of potential threats from growing Muslim minorities to Western liberal democracy. Strictly Right have since relocated the talk to London’s 1,600-seat Centennial Hall.