Poet El Jones disinvited from presentation to Supreme Court of Canada

The League joins TWUC and PEN Canada in condemning the disinvitation of anti-Black racism advocates from a presentation to the law clerks of the Supreme Court of Canada. Among the guests is Canadian poet, professor, and activist El Jones.

PEN Canada writes:

The presentation was meant to focus on the 2022 Halifax Declaration for the Eradication of Racial Discrimination. The three advocates were part of that antiracism project and had been invited to appear at the request of former Governor-General, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, whose foundation published the Declaration.

According to the Toronto Star, El Jones, DeRico Symonds, director of justice strategy with the Africans Nova Scotian Justice Institute, and Benazir Tom Erdimi, an Ottawa-based student and founder of The People of Tomorrow, were disinvited due to pro-Palestinian comments made by members of the group on social media that had made the law clerks feel “unsafe” and “harmed in their mental health.” The court’s registrar, Chantal Carbonneau, did not provide any further details about these comments.

The cancellation of qualified speakers because of their private views on an unrelated matter undermines civil discourse. It has no place in a democracy and should not prevent this country’s highest court from accessing information on matters of compelling public interest, in this case, anti-Black racism.

PEN Canada

The League recently posted a statement on censorship and activism, and we use this opportunity to reiterate that there have been a number of high-profile incidents of censorship of artists and arts workers worldwide with regards to the Israel-Hamas war, with particular censorship of pro-Palestine perspectives; the League condemns such censorship, as it stands in direct contradiction to Canada’s protected freedom of expression, and the League’s values of inclusiveness and representation.

Find the League’s statement here: LCP statement on censorship and activism – League of Canadian Poets

Find PEN Canada’s statement here: PEN Canada condemns disinvitation of antiracism advocates – PEN Canada