Today's discussion:

Shocking pro-Hamas, anti-Israel rallies lay bare the limits of Canadian pluralism

The videos from these pro-Hamas rallies in cities such as Mississauga and Montreal have been shocking. It must be said that rallies in support of a terrorist organization that has carried out a systematic campaign of killing women and children are incompatible with Canadian values.

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To read that two groups have received more than $1.34M in funding from the Federal Government is concerning. They’re not alone, no doubt, with many others across the country submitting grant applications to Ottawa for some particular cause.

By all means, have your say and do your own thing in our pluralistic society. Just say and do it on your own dime – not mine.

10th October 2023 at 8:28 am
Thomas d’Aquino

Sean, well said. With Canada’s growing diversity, the natural tensions between freedom and acceptance of a values-based consensus will become more challenging. This is where the role of teaching in our schools becomes more seminal than ever.
Hats off to the superb work of the Hub!

10th October 2023 at 7:31 am
Sean Speer

Thank you, Tom.

10th October 2023 at 8:10 am
Shirley Blair

There can be no equivocation! This obscenity in our public spaces calls for government condemnation!

10th October 2023 at 8:58 am
Jacob Birch

For anyone reading The Hub or paying attention to Canadian culture in 2023, “shocking” is too strong an adjective to describe the pro-Hamas rallies in Montreal and Mississauaga. Canada is accused of harbouring of Khalistani separatists by India. We just feted a known Nazi in Parliament in front of the Ukranian President. In fact “shocking” as the headline adjective is borderline misleading given your article’s thesis. If “diversity is our strength” then pro-Hamas, pro-Khalistan, pro-Nazi rallies should be expected and our security regime should plan for them both from a statutory and monitoring point of view. The last thing we should be is “shocked”.

“Utterly predictable pro-Hamas rallies lay bare the limits of Canadian pluralism” is more true and in a way a more shocking headline than your performative pearl-clutching. Think Claude Rains in Casablanca: “I’m shocked, shocked to learn that there is gambling going in here.”

Being “shocked” by what should be absolutely expected in Canada – given our recent history – is the wrong rhetorical framing for how to address the real costs of the diversity we’ve all embraced.

10th October 2023 at 8:43 am
Marc Grushcow

Very well said. Only by walking around with eyes closed could a person be “shocked”

10th October 2023 at 9:51 am
Gary Wm Myers

It’s not shocking in the least if you know Islam at all.

10th October 2023 at 2:47 pm
Rob Tyrrell

It is more than a stretch to associate the Nazi in Parliament blunder with your point. It certainly is not a harbinger of pro-Nazi rallies.

Likewise, Khalistani separatists are not being harbored, they are citizens, and should be left alone unless they are suspected of breaking the law, here or abroad, like any one else.

The pro-Hamas rallies are sad and horrible and in a league of their own without a doubt. I was not shocked.

All that said, what are you specifically saying are these real costs, rhetorical or otherwise, of “the diversity we’ve all embraced”? On the flip side of the coin, what have been the presumable benefits?

10th October 2023 at 1:57 pm
Jacob Birch

Thanks for engaging Rob. How exactly are these three not related to Sean’s point about diversity?

What are the costs? Seeing fellow citizens marching in the streets in support not enough of a cost for you?

10th October 2023 at 3:16 pm
Rob Tyrrell

Thank you, I appreciate that!

Sean’s point was pluralism requires principles and limits. If we are not careful, we will be become dangerously fragmented as a society.
Marches in support of anything that does no cross into hate speech (from a legal perspective) should be permitted. Although unsavory, ugly, or even despicable, it is not much of a cost. Counterprotests, counter speech, and social costs for participating should also be fair game and send an important counter signal. We need to see ourselves peacefully but unambiguously not accepting these abhorrent views.

The social media monetization of outage is making this a much bigger challenge. On an aside, Canadaland had an excellent piece today on their investigation into the very surprising source of the ‘Street Politics Canada’ YouTube channel.

10th October 2023 at 7:39 pm
John Trainor

so, should we expect our ever vigilant PM to denounce this insurrection and disorderly conduct with mounted mounties and attack gear to put down and drag these dirt bags to a lockup? Will some of the more elderly protesters get slammed against sidewalks and vehicles in the name of anti racisim? Will Trudeau call these barbarians hateful and anti LBGTQL?….will Trudeau order banks to freeze the accounts of these stone aged creeps and lock the leaders up?…..where exactly is our spineless PM on this file?…….Covid again?

10th October 2023 at 10:45 am

If you cannot separate the two then you are a big part of

10th October 2023 at 1:53 pm
Michael F

Five people upvoted this? Wouldn’t you be better served at Rumble, Rebel or some other rage balt forum?

10th October 2023 at 1:11 pm
John Klassen

Why would you be shocked? This is certainly not the first time that the slaughter of innocent victims has been celebrated in this country. The Air India bombing comes to mind.

10th October 2023 at 9:41 am
T. Hoogsteen

These Hamas supporters, while they are protesting, ought to be gathered in, taken in open box cars to a port city such as Halifax, placed in barges, each given an oar, and told to go where they belong, to fight the Israelis in the Gaza strip. I ask, under what false pretenses did these bloodthirsty characters get into the country?

10th October 2023 at 8:11 am

Yikes dude

10th October 2023 at 9:16 am

Let me say at the outset that I do not support the “celebration” of the murder of innocent people, nor do I “celebrate” the taking of hostages to be used as pawns in a political game. That being said, I think we need to remember that not all the people in the pro Palestinian demonstrations were celebrating. Many were recalling the atrocities committed against Palestinian men, women and children. People cannot be corralled for 17 yr in the world’s greatest open air prison and not expect violence. Eventually people will rebel in whatever form they think will win them their freedom. Israel has been oppressed. Israelis have suffered but in light of their oppression and suffering, I would hope that they would find a better way to deal with their situation than imposing suffering and oppression on others. This situation is not black and white. It is complex and I think there needs to be another generation to take over and find the solution. Netanyahu and the leaders of Hamas are blinded and locked in their ways. The hope I see is the young Israeli man whose grandmother was killed on Saturday and who is open to finding a better way to solve the situation. He and his kind are the ones who need the support of the world leaders right now. Just in case some think there is no one like this among the Palestinians, there is a doctor whose daughters were killed in an air raid a few years ago. He is working tirelessly to find a peaceful solution. Good is on both sides and God is on both sides. God doesn’t favor one side over the other. What kind of God could that be? That is the God who turns people off religion. That is the God of bad religion not a religion which binds and heals.

10th October 2023 at 8:38 am
Michael F

There is no room for nuance here. Only bloodlust, retribution and sabre rattling.

10th October 2023 at 1:17 pm
Richard Courtemanche

Horror, cowardice, insanity…

To those Palestinian celebrators everywhere…

What have we, Canadians, hosted that celebrates so much inhumanity and horror? Freedom of expression with prejudice that is unavailable to ethnic Canadians. We inherited what our governments have sown… the migration of permanent foreign unrest.

Frankly, we are allowing a bunch of people from countries radically different in mojo from our own to add to this mix of dysfunctional misunderstanding.

How could Palestinians merit compassion after such savagery?

10th October 2023 at 9:48 am

Palestinians are not Hamas.

10th October 2023 at 1:55 pm
Peter Byrne

Sean, your article strikes at the heart of the most challenging aspect of Freedom of Expression, as defined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadian Gov’t DOES have the ability and duty to limit hate speech. You can’t just do or say anything and be permitted, nay protected, as if this is a ‘right’. It is not.
The Democratic world is eroding around us. It is the “Fear of Offending” minor special interest groups that allows the disease to spread. Our good-hearted decency as Canadians may yet be our downfall.
What Canadians often forget is that although we are a melting-pot of cultures, there is a fundament that Canada is built upon; a culture and set of values, and becoming a Canadian means adopting those values while honouring and preserving the culture of one’s heritage. But hate such as we are seeing must be left at the border when Pledging one’s Oath of Citizenship.

10th October 2023 at 12:41 pm

We are not a melting pot. That experience is the US’s.

10th October 2023 at 1:59 pm
Rob Tyrrell

Indeed Sean! Acceptance of abhorrent expression of ideas, opinions, and preferences is a Canadian strength but should not extend to public funding, nor provide shelter from broader condemnation and social consequences.

Alas, this seven-decades-plus ongoing conflict is a tragic status quo that too many of the regional power players benefit from despite overwhelming support of regular citizens of all players on a peaceful solution. When this status quo of simmering violence and war is threatened, it takes very little to blow it up yet again. This heinous terrorist act ensures that any faint hope for an eventual peace is dashed once again.

10th October 2023 at 8:37 am
Bernie Langlois

There is a huge difference between pluralism and multiculturalism. No country can survive multiculturalism for a prolonged period

10th October 2023 at 7:42 am
Alexander Mouriopoulos

Good article. First, my take on the demonstrators. I wonder why these palestinian demonstrators came to Canada. I have been told by many interviews of immigrants that they wish to leave their country and all its strife to come here to a peaceful and quiet country where they can raise their children in peace and have opportunities not available back home. Yet it does not appear to be the case for some. They do not come here to be Canadians and truly want to blend in. They come here, it seems, to continue to operate in Canada freely for the politics of the country they left. IMO, they are cowards who wish to disrupt our society for their own political reasons at a safe distance from the troubles they left. If they really cared about doing something, they would be back home doing something about it, not coming to Canada as lobbyists for their cause and not caring about Canada at all. Palestinians want the total destruction of Israel and every Jew evicted from it. They say they want their land back. This is the true motivation of the demonstrators, and they don’t hide it. One only has to look at the signs they carry. All the other complaints they have about Israel are nothing compared to this objective. Since this is never going to happen, they will never be satisfied no matter what concessions they are given. I see no end to this conflict until they agree to the legitimacy of Israel for Jews to live there. They complain about the conditions in Gaza, yet I am baffled why no other Muslim country wants to help these people, maybe because those countries know Israel has a right to exist. To the bigger issue in the article about diversity, I agree it will finally destroy our society as we know it. Our domestic politics and policies are now based on grovelling to ethnic communities for their votes. Our diversity policy simply allows ethnic communities to not think of themselves as Canadian or have the need to blend in. eg. ‘I am Palestinian first’. Now that we are increasing immigration to 500,000 per year, many will be from countries that will come here to not be Canadian, but only to hide here and continue to fight for the country they left. Hamas are terrorists and their followers here spew nothing but hate speech, especially when they condone and promote indiscriminate murder of innocent civilians. They should be prosecuted. They continue to provoke Israel by firing rockets into Israel regularly, knowing that a response from Israel will possibly kill their own people. They sacrifice their own people just so they can can get time on social media. What kind of people are they that they believe in killing their own and others? We must be more careful about who we let in to Canada.

10th October 2023 at 12:17 pm
Robert Yaro

In 1948, the UN created 2 states; Palestine and Israel. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and other Arab states were opposed to both. Their invasion of these states was to prevent their creation, and to incorporate as much of the territory into their own state as possible. Egypt and Jordan both set their sights on Jerusalem. Egypt took Gaza, Syria the Golan, Jordan the West Bank. None of these countries made any effort to build schools, hospitals or other infrastructure in the lands they took over. They wanted the land, not the people. None of the residents in Gaza, The Golan or West Bank was eligible for citizenship in the country that controlled them. These areas were to be part of the UN proposed Palestinian state. At any time Egypt, Jordan and Syria could have created the Palestinian state, they did not. These facts never became part of the Palestinian narrative, instead the blame for not having a Palestine State was placed on Israel, where it remains until this day. The Israeli govt has followed the example of the Arab states; Israel made minimal invests in schools, hospitals, water supplies in the Palestinian areas they control. It is next to impossible for Palestinians to gain Israeli citizenship. Israel tramples upon the human rights of Palestinians under its control. What Hamas did was terrorism. It was wrong. It is the Palestinian people who are bearing the brunt of Israel’s response, to this indeterminate massacre.

10th October 2023 at 12:52 pm
richard hofer

Nothing useful to add to your fine essay. It mirrors my own thoughts. Congratulations.

10th October 2023 at 10:28 am
Adrian van den Enden

Its not “how Canadian you are” but “who you are as a Canadian”. This statement puts the individual ahead of society. PLurality may be a great vote getter, but it will eventually fracture our society. I will support true plurality when the Pro-life protesters (frequently jailed), are treated the same as these terrorist supporters. Throw the Hamas supporters in jail for promoting hate speech.

10th October 2023 at 9:14 am
Guy Coates

Thank you for your essay, I have again been centred amongst these horrible and spirit breaking events.

10th October 2023 at 8:41 am
giles chater

Why the double standards?
If you listen to Sikh activists in Canada they will say that their demands for their own separate state are legitimate and we allow them to conspire and agitate inside Canada, shredding our our reputation for impartiality. Why do we allow sword-wielding protestors to hijack the news cycle and sabotage International relations. The NDP leader was, if I am not mistaken, a member of an International organization, since deemed a terrorist organization. One man’s freedom-fighter is another’s terrorist….
Palestinians have for generations been literally imprisoned in a ghetto, receiving only the most basic services, killed at will by settlers that force them off the land from which they have eked a precarious living. What hope
does a young Palestinian have without violently throwing off those shackles? Negotiation got them nowhere, let’s agree…..
We must now watch the predictable agony of another city crammed with defenceless non-combatants, being levelled. The Israelis do not even pretend to lie, unlike Russians, stating that their lack of discrimination when it comes to targeting is simply a biblical retribution. Somehow we are convinced by our political elite that this is acceptable.
Lets not pretend that all views are valid in modern Canada,… that’s just our wallpaper. If the Palestinian diaspora in Canada was greater than that of Israelis, I think the tepid indignation spluttered by the PM might be tempered every once in a while by a glance at the polls…..
Israel and the Saudi’s have a common enemy in the Shia, and with the glaring Nexus to the regime in Tehran of both the Yemeni conflict and continued might of Hamas/Hezbollah, scattering the Palestinians to the wind will clearly upset nobody….least of all us comfortably dumb Canadians.

10th October 2023 at 12:42 pm
Z Waseem

Are the rallies undeniably pro-Hamas or an effort to raise the profile for a Palestinian homeland? Many appear to be protesting the conditions in Gaza and the West Bank.

10th October 2023 at 12:10 pm
Mark Blaney

Canada has infact, anti terrorism laws. These Jew Haters are flagrantly touting the laws and should all be prosecuted!

10th October 2023 at 10:43 am

I agree with the author. There is no equivalence between a recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people and the slaughter of innocent people by the nihilistic Hamas.

10th October 2023 at 9:32 am
Gordon Benoit

As a result of uncontrolled immigration, don’t see one legit Canadian in the crowd.

10th October 2023 at 11:11 am


10th October 2023 at 10:34 am

Ignorance promotes this type of contribution

10th October 2023 at 2:05 pm

Have a good look at what Israel has been doing.

10th October 2023 at 9:59 am

I took a good look at the situation since Israel was created. I suggest that anyone who believes that Israel is innocent, should look at the timeline. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Global Conflict Tracker. 270,000 Palestinians were displaced and continue to be displaced as Israel decides to take their land. I’ll leave you to decide who is guilty.

10th October 2023 at 6:35 pm
Isabel Moss

Do not equate Palestinians with Hamas. Hamas has not won an election in 15 years, which indicates rejection of their actions by Palestinians in general. Just as many Israelis also reject the populist and genocidal activities of their own government as being futile. This isn’t about the weakness of pluralism, but the rising dangers of populism. Populism in Canada, in Israel, in Palestine. Speak truth. Hamas terrorism, Israeli terrorism. Both must cease. It doesn’t help when the Israeli Minister of Defense calls Palestinians “human animals” and calls for their total obliteration. It doesn’t help when people jubilate the hatefulness of Hamas. Sickening echoes.

10th October 2023 at 7:49 am
Chris MacMartin

Well said. Many of the comments here exemplify the ignorance and intolerance at the core of this conflict.

10th October 2023 at 11:51 am
Gary Wm Myers

Canadian values have quickly eroded since 2015. I don’t even know what they are anymore.

Celebrating terrorism ought to be as much of a crime as supporting terrorism.

The explosion of celebration by Muslims all over the world belies the claim that Islam is a religion of peace, and it leaves a hint of what Islam will be like when they are in the majority. Muslim children all over the world are learning to celebrate brutal, barbaric, terrorism. Are these among our Canadain values?

10th October 2023 at 2:43 pm
Rob Tyrrell

Yikes, well some of our values are governance via liberal democracy, equal justice, and rule-of-law. Please explain…
What happened specifically starting in 2015 a definitive point-in-time for this asserted erosion? What are the “highlights” since then?
//Celebrating terrorism ought to be as much of a crime as supporting terrorism//
Are you saying that speech should be equal to action in this category?
How do you get from some Muslims celebrating to the majority of the world’s 1.5+ billion of Muslims?

10th October 2023 at 3:03 pm
Marilyn Chernack

We are complicit in the grooming of these young Hamas terrorists. We give the U.N. Agency for Palestinian refugees loads of money for their children’s educational books. What they’re actually learning is “How To Kill A Jew With A Knife” and they use toy dolls to represent Israel/Jews. I watched videos of children learning how to fight and strangle Jews. I’m tired of all the virtue-signaling, self-absorbed liberals with white guilt.

10th October 2023 at 1:36 pm

Sad s many people are dead on both sides and people cheer no respect for human lives may Christ have mercy on their souls

10th October 2023 at 10:59 am
Pierre F.

Israel was built on murder (read up on its history) and it continues to murder women and children. Why is it a surprise someone struck back?

10th October 2023 at 10:10 am

read your bible

10th October 2023 at 4:09 pm
Gavin Marshall

Thanks for this timely article, Sean Speer. This violence, and the disparate reactions to it, are cause for trembling reflection. As were the dueling stories this year about Pride Month and reactions to it – both the intolerant Maoist attitude of a teacher in Calgary who brooked no dissent to the LGBTQ doctrines that were the order of the day, AND the deeply offensive and troubling sight of Muslim teens ripping down a Pride flag in London Ontario. Where is the middle in all this??? Is there one?

Let me throw up my pathway toward a better understanding (still travelling). Another way of framing the challenge of liberalism, is to say that liberalism is an empty vessel into which a society can place many diverse values, many cultures, many “personal projects” (to use Richard Rorty’s phrase), as long as nothing placed in the public vessel is corrosive of the vessel itself. As you suggest, there must be a base, common consensus; a political community must “constitute itself” ie., make its constitution, state what it is for, even if that positive statement is minimalistic. Indeed, some (the American founders) might say that less is better, because it is better to stick to those basics that literally EVERYONE can agree on. It follows that not all values can be accepted in the mix – those which tend to pose an existential risk to liberalism itself must be condemned, and ultimately, disavowed.

The state of our current discourse makes me worry that the challenge to preserve our liberal political culture might already be lost. Why? Why have the most illiberal reactions to the sickening violence of Hamas, come disproportionately from our institutions of higher learning?? And not the engineering or research sciences, mind you, for they have work to do. No, its the social sciences, humanities, and faculties of education from where the apologetics of terrorism find fertile soil in Canada. The “root cause”, I fear, is a pervasive post-modernism: that cocktail of ideas that seeks to dissolve assertions of truth in contested discourses about language, cast common human striving as irretrievably bounded by parochial perspective and closed identities, and challenges the very idea of a common citizenship, because it expresses a deep skepticism of common public projects per se. Rudyard was pulling on the thread of this question in his book ten years ago “Who We Are” which received too little attention.

Anyway, someone needs to follow the footnotes from our current cafe versions of post-modern nihilism, popular in our best post-secondary schools, back to their profoundly illiberal sources, more often than not, Nietzsche and Heidegger. Late 20th century intellectuals have a lot to answer for.

An intriguing starting point to interrogate this past is a startling debate, in writing, between Charles Taylor (the famous NDP prof from McGill, not the Liberian dictator) and Clifford Orwin, of UofT. See Taylor’s “The Politics of Recognition” in the text “Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition” and Clifford Orwin’s reply “Charles Taylor’s Pedagogy of Recognition” in the 90s text “Canadian Political Philosophy”. Sean will recall that he had a really edifying Hub Dialogue discussion with Francis Fukuyama (last year?) about the politics and psychology of recognition, and the challenge of illiberal identity politics which Fukuyama has taken up with some seriousness in the last few years. Anyway, the Taylor-Orwin debate sheds light on where we have come from, and thus, how we arrived in this dark place, where our cherished liberalism seems so threatened. My view: Taylor, well meaning, was wrong, but he won the conversation and debate in the universities, three decades ago. We are reaping the harvest today, as progressives from Wilfred Laurier to McMaster trip over themselves to celebrate the New Barbarism.

11th October 2023 at 2:03 am
Greg Bedard

Great article and even read the comments. I was going to attend a walk by Palestinian group and I am not Palestinian. I was going to support the Palestinians trapped for 15 years in a getto somewhat like the ghettos some brown uniformed people placed the jews years ago. I will never agree with the Hamas attack, but I can under stand how frustrated and anger the people. When negotiating does work for 15 years something has to give. If we don’t learn from history,
Our Nobel PM said on TV if I showed up at the demonstration I was supporting hamas, defending terrorist, committing hate speak etc. etc. Heck he doesn’t even know me, just because I hold a view different than his, I am condemned.
a radical. Hmm sounds like the truckers convey.
My question is why the PM says he is totally against apartheid, against colonization and then totally supports Israel when they are openly practicing those behaviors against Palestinian s who are being held in Gasa. They are not there by choice. I also wonder why our PM says the Palestinians are killing Jews and that makes them
terrorists and dedicated to overthrowing Israel , but he is very quiet about Israeli dropped 2000 bombes in 24 hours on citizens who are trapped in Gaza with no were to hide and no help coming. If I was living in Gaza right now, and I had access to a weapon I would be fighting for my life, would that make me a terrorist or a citizen fighting for there life.

10th October 2023 at 8:21 pm
Bill Hertha

“Canada has essentially bet its future on pluralism”. I agree we are betting on immigration, but pluralism is what follows, and that is something quite different and that I’m not so sure about.

10th October 2023 at 4:45 pm
Michael F

This is a terrible senseless tragedy that will only result in more deaths and destruction, and the continuation of the cycle of violence. The old adage that you reap what you sow rings true. A direct line can be drawn from Netanyahu’s policies to this unconscionable violence. Treat people like animals and they will lash out like animals.

10th October 2023 at 4:36 pm

Why would this shock me? Extremist Muslims from a number of majority Muslim mid eastern countries have been trying to destroy Israel since it’s inception. Yes there are many peaceful Muslims, but I read at one point that there is 15-25% who are radicalized. That is 300 million people who want to fight / terrorize / kill / destroy all non Muslims. This will not end until the peaceful Muslims say enough is enough. You don’t represent us. You will stop your unacceptable behaviour.

10th October 2023 at 4:28 pm
Bobby Brown

Police should be identifying these individuals and if they don’t have Canadian Citizenship they should be hauled off and thrown out of our country.
It’s bad enough we let those terrorists loving idiots into our country in the first place.

10th October 2023 at 3:15 pm

Sean I totally agree, very well written, now is the how to fence support for violence support.

10th October 2023 at 1:50 pm

Anyone who supports such animalistic, inhumane behaviour should be sent to Gaza…Live with your kind! u deserve none of the benefits of a country where u are free…u are disgusting! God will fight for Isreal! U however have a special place in hell reserved for soulless, immoral demonic entities in human form.

10th October 2023 at 12:49 pm
Bruce Westmoreland

Eye for an eye mentality has, as far as I know, had positive outcomes.

10th October 2023 at 7:53 am