|U.S. skeptics to speak of 9-11 cover-up at three Canadian universities|
|Tuesday, 25 May 2010 18:15|
MONTREAL - Three Canadian universities will be used as a venue for a speaking tour by prominent 9-11 skeptics who believe controlled explosions — not airplanes — brought down the Twin Towers.
Americans Richard Gage and David Ray Griffin dispute the conventional wisdom that foreign terrorists linked to al-Qaida destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
They are scheduled to give lectures titled "9/11: Explosive Evidence and the War in Afghanistan" at the University of Toronto, Carleton University and the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) over the coming days.
The Ontario Association of Architects is inviting students in its continuing education program to take in the event for extra credit.
This tour comes right on the heels of a free-speech controversy that erupted when U.S. pundit Ann Coulter had an appearance cancelled at the University of Ottawa.
UQAM says the conference is not a school-sponsored activity; it's simply renting out a 700-person auditorium.
"The university is a place of thought and free expression of certain opinions and I think that's one of guiding principles," spokeswoman Francine Jacques said Friday.
Faculty members at the Montreal university told La Presse they are upset the institution is being used for the event.
One told the newspaper it harms the school's credibility, calling the speakers "liars, impostors and conmen."
Jacques says the university carefully examined the lecture topic before opting to rent the space to Gage and Griffin — a decision she admits is debatable.
"We questioned it and we'll see how things go," said Jacques.
She added that the school is now evaluating whether its rental policy should be stricter.
Gage was scheduled to appear solo at Carleton on Friday, and will be joined by Griffin on Sunday in Toronto and Monday in Montreal.
Gage's organization believes the World Trade Centre — the two towers and a third 47-storey building — collapsed from the controlled detonation of explosives, not the impact of two airplanes.
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth wants the U.S. Congress to launch an "independent" probe into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and disputes the results of official investigations so far.
Griffin is a retired theology professor and author of several books on an alleged 9-11 cover up.
His discussion will focus on the legal and moral aspects of the war in Afghanistan, which was a response to the Sept. 11 attacks.
An organizer for the Toronto event says the bestseller, "American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies That the Government Tells Us," by former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, has re-ignited interest in the issue.
"There's just been another push for getting the message out that we really do have to reconsider 9-11, not as an attack of Arab Muslims, but re-examine it for what the facts actually tell us," said Adam Parrott, a chemical engineer and member of Gage's group.
Parrot, who expects a near sell-out of about 500 people, chose the University of Toronto primarily because of its central location. He distributed flyers promoting the event to architectural firms, encouraging professionals to attend.
"This 9-11 truth message, or this questioning of the official account, has really become mainstream and it's something that is actively discussed and is not as taboo as it used to be," Parrott said.
A spokeswoman for the University of Toronto says the school has no problem with the lecture as long as event organizers follow the rental contract rules and allow a free exchange of ideas.
"It's just an external booking, they booked the space, so there's no university involvement in it whatsoever," Laurie Stephens said.
A debate over free speech on Canadian campuses recently made headlines outside this country.
In March, hundreds of shouting protesters forced the cancellation of Coulter's speech at the University of Ottawa, which officials deemed a security threat.
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