Globe public editor: The problem with Ezra Levant’s complaint

Sylvia SteadBy Sylvia Stead, public editor of The Globe and Mail

Ezra Levant, Sun Media columnist and Sun TV commentator, has complained about a recent Globe and Mail story. He has said The Globe story is wrong and that his column is completely correct.

So let’s look at the facts from a journalistic point of view. Mr. Levant wrote a Remembrance Day column that said the Greater Essex County District School Board in Ontario circulated an e-mail that, according to him, says: “Teachers should be prepared to exempt Muslim students from Remembrance Day.”

Problem No. 1: Nowhere does the memo state anything like that. So his lead paragraph is wrong.

He backs up that assertion with this quote from the actual memo: “Some families may be reluctant to have their children attend your location municipality’s ceremonies. Please note that meaningful alternate activities should be provided at the schools for those families who do not wish their children to participate in any Remembrance Day activities.”

Do you see anywhere in that quote a suggestion that teachers should be prepared to exempt Muslim students? I don’t and, as an editor, I would have asked him how you prove such a statement with no evidence in the memo.

Mr. Levant’s column goes on to say that while the school board did not specifically point to any families, it pointed to two Muslim-themed websites.

Problem No. 2: This, too, is not correct. At the end of the memo, the school board says: “The Canadian War Museum has lots to offer with resources that are reflective of our Canadian nation – and our equally diverse local population.” The memo then includes a link to the Canadian War Museum toolkit for teachers. It also includes a link to a website by an army chaplain on spirituality that references one Muslim-Canadian soldier’s views on spiritual values and a separate link about the first Canadian Muslim woman to wear a hijab in uniform as well as photos of aboriginal, Asian-Canadian and African-Canadian soldiers and veterans.

To continue reading this column, please go theglobeandmail.com where this was originally published.

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