A minor mystery solved, and some background on the organizational bungling at the University of Ottawa.
Margaret Wente writes:
Many people suspect that Ms. Coulter was getting her tactical advice from Ezra Levant, the loud-mouthed scourge of left-leaning academics and human-rights commissions. Mr. Levant, in his characteristic style, referred to the protesting students as “brownshirts.” Although he is widely suspected of leaking the Houle letter to the National Post, where it wound up on the front page, this is not the case. The letter was leaked by Doug Pepper, the publisher of McClelland and Stewart. He is an old friend and editor of the stringy agitator. His brother-in-law is the Post's editor.
Now we know. Coulter's editor leaked the Houle letter--presumably to stir up interest in the event, and what transpired in the face of this increased interest? Shiva (not her real name)--one of Coulter's organizers--gives some information which Free Dominion which, while obviously biased, nevertheless helps fill in a few of the blanks:
1) For one thing, she admits that the U-of-O protesters were non-violent. Although I doubt her further assertion that the building was "surrounded" by protesters. But by all means, read her whole statement can be read through the links.
2) In a later post, Shiva expands in detail on what happens in the lead-up to the U-of-O Coulter non-appearance:
Second event in Ottawa, Room capacity was only 475 so only approx 440 people were registered by the organizers. We were told on Monday afternoon at approx. 5:00 that if we did not hire (and pay for) 4 more security guards to add to the number we had already arranged for, that the event would be cancelled. Even though it felt like bullying, we readily agreed since they said they had reason to believe the event could turn violent and they wanted to ensure that we had a safe event for attendees. I have the proof in the form of a telephone message left for me and the subsequent email I received with the revised contract adding the additional security personnel that we were TOLD we must have or risk having our event canceled. At approx. 3:00 in the afternoon on the day of the event, I called the campus security contact and found a very concerned and confused man who said that he had been told the event was open to the public was first come, first serve, and who also told me that protestors had already begun to assemble themselves outside the venue. I set him straight regarding this event being first come, first serve and asked him why he would take the word of people who had not been involved in organizing the event? I made it clear that we had only registered a certain number of people and that they were the only ones who should be showing up. I've already addressed the other issues with how and when things became ugly but I'll add one other fact: The media in Ottawa were brutal. They were like a pack of jackals who refused to move out of the way as we tried to process registered people. We, politely at first, asked them to move out of the way instead of crowding the already congested registration area, so that we could get the registered people in and then determine if there was enough room to let the media in. They absolutely refused to get out of the way and instead kept pressing in and trying to find ways to sneak into the venue. They also refused to abide by the conditions we set, unlike the media in London who were cooperative in that respect. Am I surprised to find that most of the lies about the event are coming from the media who were present at the Ottawa event? When I put it to a few of them that they were contributing to an unsafe situation for the people in that room, a few of them had the nerve to say it was due to poor organization. I reminded them that we had, using the same methodology, managed to register double the number of people in London the night before without incident, but apparently we can't let logic get in the way of a good spin. There was NO conversation with me or anyone else at IFPS, about moving to a larger venue. That is an absolute lie because if they had said anything like that I would have told them to stuff it and would have instead suggested that the campus security we PAID for, do their bloody jobs and get rid of the people who had no business being there.
So, a couple of things here. The University had a full day previous to the event expressed concern at the size of the venue secured by its organizers. Shiva's response on Tuesday to the security guards worries re people already showing up outside the building is painfully naive given the fact that the Coulter camp has already leaked Houle's letter. How could they expect only those people who had pre-registered to show up, especially when they had done so much to attempt to draw wider attention to the event? We also know that many of the over-flow crowd consisted of people who had indeed registered, and who had not registered but were Coulter fans, as well as critics ad protesters. Just how campus security was supposed to separate these folks out and physically remove the rest is not explained. One assumes clubbing would be involved.
So, in the end, Coulter's organizers bungled the registration process in Ottawa, panicked, and then had Ezra go out and blame Canada for their screw-up. Too many of Canada's pundit class have, unfortunately followed this line of misinformation, probably because most of them can hack out a "Free Speech Under Attack" column in their sleep. Its presumably a little more difficult to crank out 500 words on the subject of how Conservative activists attempted to rent a room in Ottawa and failed miserably.
Hopefully, this will be my last post on Ms. Coulter.