(Wiki Commons)

Anti-diversity op-ed should never have run in Vancouver Sun, prof says

Newspaper apologizes after printing Mark Hecht’s column on how more diversity means less social trust

A journalism professor says the controversy over an anti-diversity opinion piece published in — and then pulled online from — the Vancouver Sun has nothing to do with freedom of expression.

“Journalists have always had the ability to decide what to publish and broadcast and what not to publish and broadcast,” Sean Holman with Calgary’s Mount Royal University said Monday.

“We’re not common carriers. We’re not the telephone system.”

Mark Hecht, an instructor of geography at Mount Royal, argued in the column that showed on the weekend that more diversity means less social trust. He commended Denmark for becoming more restrictive toward immigrants.

“Can Canada learn from Denmark? The jury is out,” Hecht wrote. “But the minimum requirement is that we say goodbye to diversity, tolerance and inclusion if we wish to be a society that can rebuild the trust we used to have in one another and start accepting a new norm for immigration policy — compatibility, cohesion and social trust.”

The piece was removed from the paper’s website on Saturday, but not before it went to the printing press.

“I am dismayed by the suppression of open and rational debate in this country,” Hecht wrote in an email Monday.

Holman said he and many of his colleagues were troubled by the piece. Several Vancouver Sun journalists also denounced it on social media.

Holman said newspapers have no obligation to run op-eds — columns submitted by people unaffiliated with the paper — that don’t pass journalistic muster.

He said one major red flag in Hecht’s piece was that it cites the Gatestone Institute, a think tank that has been widely criticized for spreading anti-Muslim misinformation.

The op-ed may help fuel anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada, he suggested.

READ MORE: Scheer vows to end ‘illegal’ border crossings as part of immigration policy plan

“The Vancouver Sun should not have published this op-ed. It does not meet our standard of helping facilitate the kind of rational, empathetic, informed decision-making expected of us in a democracy.”

The Sun’s editor-in-chief, Harold Munro, apologized for the piece he said did not meet the paper’s journalistic standards.

“The Vancouver Sun is committed to promoting and celebrating diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Our vibrant community and nation are built on these important pillars,” Munro wrote.

“We are reviewing our local workflow and editorial processes to ensure greater oversight and accountability so that this does not happen again.”

Hecht’s biography on the Mount Royal website says his main interests include “invasive species dispersal, invasion, colonization and evolutionary adaptation, especially as it relates to European ecological dominance.”

He has a self-published book called “The Rules of Invasion: Why Europeans Naturally Invaded the New World.”

Neither Hecht nor Mount Royal indicated whether he still has his job at the university.

“Mount Royal, like all universities, is a place for debate, for freedom of expression and for the respectful exchange of ideas,” Jonathan Withey, dean of the faculty of science and technology, said in an e-mailed statement.

“The ideas expressed in this newspaper op-ed, while protected by freedom of expression, do not represent my personal views, nor the position of Mount Royal University as a whole.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MLAs say Parksville will better prepared for flooding emergencies

RDN receives $150K in funding for Englishman River Flood Hazard Mapping project

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Parksville man, 95, gets lifetime achievement award for civil rights work

Bill Duncan worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Most Read