Copies of handbook given to CSIS & MUC

Concordia’s controversial handbook is in the hands of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS), according to the legal counsel for B’Nai Brith Canada.
“Copies have been given to the Attorney General, the Montreal Urban Community (MUC) police and CSIS. This matter has gone beyond Concordia,” said Steven Slimovitch, the legal counsel for B’Nai Brith Canada. “This is a matter that has nothing to do with protest, nothing to do with freedom of expression and it has clearly transcended university politics. This is now a document to be investigated by CSIS.”
The agenda includes artwork of a jet crashing into a room full of men in suits and advice on how to carry out illegal action. One page reads “do not leave a paper trail that could lead the police to suspect you.”
“I hope the matter is pursued on an investigative, terrorist and criminal level,” said Slimovitch.
Investigating threats to the security of Canada, CSIS would not comment on whether or not they are looking into the issue. “Operational details cannot be discussed,” said Chantal Lapalme, a CSIS public relations officer.
Concordia Student Union (CSU) President Sabrina Stea said the events of Sept. 11 have left people with heightened paranoia. “For B’Nai Brith to assume we knew anything about Sept. 11 is completely preposterous,” said Stea.
Slimovitch said he would have expected police to find a document like the agenda during a search of a fringe or underground organization, not as an agenda openly distributed on campus.
“I am really scared. Scared of what is happening to our university,” said Stea. “It means free speech and critical thinking is out the window.”
According to Slimovitch, the agenda goes beyond free speech. “Your right to free speech ends when your exercise of free speech calls for violence against others. There is no right, under the guise of free speech, to advocate the commission of a criminal offense. There isn’t a court in the land that will support that view.”
B’Nai Brith Canada wants the handbook publication removed and the university to establish a policy to never associate itself with this type of material again. “The agenda is an open call to violence against establishment with a clearly anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist slant,” said Slimovitch.
However Stea said the handbook gives marginalized students a place to express themselves. “The agenda is about diversity of opinion.”
The CSU has also received a backlash from the university administration. “We certainly don’t think it represents the views of all students. For some students it may even be an imposition of views they don’t want to hear,” said Dennis Murphy, the executive director of communications at Concordia. “It has become an issue that has caused a lot of significant problems for Concordia students, staff and faculty.”
Murphy pointed out that the CSU is an autonomous organization that the university has no authority over. He said it was unfortunate that the university was linked to the handbook even though the agenda is entirely a matter of the CSU.
“It’s bad advertising for the university, it gives the university a negative image that it doesn’t deserve and technically isn’t associated with,” said Murphy. “It detracts from the extremely positive work people have being doing in the last number of years.”
Wary advertisers have said they will think carefully next year before including their ads in the Concordia student agenda. Murphy added he is not surprised advertisers are unhappy.
“I”ll have to think twice about doing an ad with you [Concordia],” said a spokesperson for Greiche and Scaff Optometrists, who wished to remain unnamed. Greiche and Scaff received a number of angry complaints from citizens who were upset that the company was associated with the controversial agenda, according to the spokesperson. “We’ve had to explain ourselves for the last four days. We had no idea what would be written in the agenda. We trusted Concordia as a university.”
The Peel Pub will want to see a copy of the contents of the agenda next year before deciding to place its advertisement. “We will be more careful next time,” said Sterios Mimidakis, the general manager for Peel Pub.
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