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  • Marty Gold

Seven Oaks School Division Pulls Venue From Panel Event Showcasing Linda Sarsour

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

Within 3 hours of my column detailing how outraged Winnipeggers were assailing a North End school division plan to rent out a theatre for an event starring anti-Israel "progressive" idol Linda Sarsour, officials assured me via Twitter they were heeding "significant expressions of concern" from and telling organizers to take a hike.

The division was never a sponsor of this event" - a 100th Anniversary fundraiser for the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg - "and has now taken the step of canceling the booking", proclaimed a tweet by the Seven Oaks School Division. The organizers do have a right to appeal the decision to the School Board Trustees.

My column Wednesday detailed how a petition directed at Trustees and started by alumni of Garden City Collegiate was circulating on Facebook. It incorporated a brief video calling out Sarsour's links to a convicted terrorist who murdered 2 Jewish students, her close ties to the rabid anti-Semitic Islamist preacher Louis Farrakhan, and her mocking tone to Muslim women who speak out against the cultural practice of female genital mutilation.

Most controversially, Sarsour is a champion of the boycott movement that seeks to isolate Israel. In a previous (federal) political life, Seven Oaks Assistant Superintendent Matt Henderson campaigned for the NDP on a platform that asserted "With the BDS movement, we really need to attack those people who are using it as a means for hate and a means for racism."

Meanwhile, the petition grew at a rate of 1 supporter every 2 minutes, to over 1000 signatures, as organizers shifted their focus to pressuring the SPCW to remove Sarsour from the “Sorry Not Sorry” panel on April 26th wherever it may be held, as it "is not aligned with our community values or our responsibilities to students and the community."

The change of venue was not the only change noted about the details for the event.

In a Social Planning Council website post, with a lengthy defence of their intention to provide a platform for Sarsour and extolling her Social Justice Warrior credentials, they indicated tickets were available not only from the SPCW, but now also from the co-sponsors of the evening, the Canadian Muslim Women's Institute. Previously, there was no indication the Muslim charity was sharing in any of the revenue.

B'Nai Brith Canada lauded the School Division for responding so quickly to the community and paid respects to Ron East "for galvanizing the community." The Jewish human rights group said even before the venue cancelation, it had already sent letters of complaint to both organizations promoting the event "asking them to recind their invitation to Sarsour ... her brand of hatred will not be tolerated, not in Winnipeg or anywhere in Canada."

Just last week - unreported in Canadian mainstream media - Sarsour made a Richmond (Vancouver) appearance in a fundraiser for a Muslim women's Help Line.

According to the Vancouver Courier, "when it became apparent she was set to be the keynote speaker at Nisa’s gala fundraiser in Richmond, the charity was flooded with protests from the local Jewish community... But (said charity CEO Tanweer Ebrahim) the booking was already made and many tickets had been sold on the back of Linda coming to speak.”