In this segment, Sun News Network personality Ezra Levant implies that the Greater Essex County District School Board has sent around an email to its principals exempting Muslim students from Remembrance Day celebrations due to possible conflicts with their/their families' religious beliefs.
As evidence that the exemption caters to Muslims, Mr. Levant points to a number of links in the email, which send the reader to stories about Muslim soldiers serving in the Canadian army.
Mr. Levant then goes off on a ten minute rant suggesting that any Muslim immigrants who refuse to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies are being dis-loyal to Canada, and denigrating Muslims in general.
However, when you look at the email in question (which can be found here), you will see that the link to stories re Muslim soldiers are followed by links to other, similar stories about Aboriginal CDN soldiers, African CDN soldiers, and etc.
So the rant is based on a falsehood. There is nothing in the memo that suggests that this exemption was meant to spare the religious sensibilities of any Muslim child/parent In fact, a CBC story on the email indicates that the exemption was a matter of parents having safety concerns re sending their kids to a public ceremony, given the Ottawa attacks of a few weeks ago.
Surely this piece fails the CAB code provision requiring accuracy, and contains material that discriminates against Cdn Muslims.
Factual backgrounder on the Greater Essex County Remembrance Day memo
I have had a number of people ask me about the facts of the Greater Essex County District School board, and their memo about exempting students from Remembrance Day.
For those who are curious, here's the provenance of that story:
-Someone who received an e-mailed memo from the school board forwarded it to me as a potential news item.
-We sent the school board the entire e-mail memo we had received, in exactly the form we received it, along with a number of questions about it.
-The school board’s spokesman, Scott Scantlebury, referred to their religious accommodation policy.
-At no point did Scantlebury mention anything about security concerns of parents. Scantlebury seems to have provided a different response to CBC.
-The memo we received only singles out one religion (in the links).
-That memo we received did not include the links to aboriginal, Asian, and African soldiers in the Canadian military. Scantlebury did not advise us of this fact. The quotes we cited from the memo are accurate.
-I have attached my producer’s email exchanges yesterday with Scantlebury. I have only redacted the producer’s name and contact info.
Above two posts are from Ezra's facebook page.
Thanks Douggie. Reading the PDF, it is confirmed that there is no possible way that a reasonable person could have derived his ridiculous rant from that correspondence. In fact, the only rare cases where religious exemptions were generally granted, according to the School Board spokesperson, was for pacifist religions. So, Ezra should be calling for the expulsion of Mennonites, I guess.
The school board official had no idea what he was being set up for, and so didn't take appropriate defensive measures. At one point the school board official expressed confusion. After all, what person with a brain could treat a discussion of Muslim veterans as part of a narrative of Muslims refusing to serve during Remembrance Day.
You're quite welcome !Update: The superintendent of the Essex school board came on the Sun News Network today and told host Jerry Agar that the board had “miscommunicated”, and she apologized for the mixed messages:Glad that's all cleared up.
Thanks for the update Douggie. Essex School Board did the right thing in bringing this stupidity to an end, but at no point, even in the e-mailed discussion, was there the slightest justification for Ezra's interpretation. Of course, it is also quite clear that the original e-mail sent by Sun had been interested in matters related to religion. The spokesperson made a mistake in not thoroughly investigating the matter, but perhaps they imagined that they were having a discussion in good faith, and not rushing into a Ezra Levant scream-fest. Nothing the spokesperson said was incorrect. They didn't have to apologize, since really they did nothing wrong, but in the end a quick apology, to bring this stupidity to an end, was the right thing to do.
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