Are UBC students financing terrorism?

The student president seems to thinks they could be


Earlier this week, after summarizing the controversy that had erupted after UBC’s student union decided to make a club’s $700 donation towards a Canadian flotilla to Gaza subject to a public vote by student council, I opined that student leaders, when representing all students, should wade as little as possible into matters concerning the Middle East,

Luckily, it appears that UBC has gotten the message. After finding that the student group in question (the Social Justice Centre) had not broken any rules with its $700 donation, council decided to allow the donation to pass, and launch a highly public investigation into whether they are aiding terrorism.

Wait, what?

Included in the motion passed was a provision, recommended by lawyers, that the Alma Mater Society, UBC’s student union, make sure student money won’t be funding terrorism, if inadvertently. Which, regardless of where you stand, is the responsible thing to do. The report by the AMS’ law firm clearly said there was no evidence the Canadian Boat to Gaza, the organization overseeing the flotilla, or the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (whose UBC chapter requested the funds for the donation) were linked to terrorism. But still, this is legalese for “covering your ass, and doing so quietly.”

However, rather than quietly going about this investigation after the public vote gave most people closure, the AMS Executive led by President Bijan Ahmadian, decided that the VP Finance would pursue “an independent investigation”  to make sure “the transfer will not constitute funding an organization linked to terrorism,” and issue a press release, confirming so.

Ahmadian then followed up by telling The National Post that the AMS “might call CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] or someone, and see what their impression is…I think we’ve definitely got ourselves to a bit of a dilemma here.”

A few questions I never thought I would be asking: if you’re the president of a public organization, and you think you might be indirectly supporting terrorism, wouldn’t you want to downplay the situation to the media, or defer comment? Wouldn’t publicly opining on this “dilemma” only further inflame the situation and make the very organization you run look bad? Especially given that for all the things you would think a British Columbia student union could be effective in, investigating terrorism links will never, in any conceivable universe, be one of them? Also, why even come close to implying that your fellow councilors, which you oversee, might be inadvertently supporting terrorism?

And one would expect if that did happen, it wouldn’t be UBC’s student union finding out first.

Photo: Canadian Press


Are UBC students financing terrorism?

  1. This guy is a clown. I have yet to run into someone on this campus who has a kind word for him. It’s just another manifestation of the conservative backlash at UBC. And to think I came to UBC because of rumors in Toronto that UBC has become more progressive: how stupid could one be?!

  2. @Masrour, I like how you call this a backlash from last years more left wing executive, and then declare that somehow this school isn’t “progressive” (to your standards). If it’s a backlash, it means that this executive is the opposite of what it was only last year.
    Dude, it’s one person, way to judge 46,000 students and hundreds of world renowned professors off of him. Logic would tell you that the fact that this is making news as being ridiculous means that most students think it is ridiculous, which means that UBC is still “progressive” by your standards.
    I dislike generalizations. If you have a problem with this isolated incident then address it, don’t try to generalize the problem to the entire school.

  3. Macleans’ choice of a photo in this story is truly outrageous. How dare you portray a peaceful organization – the Free Gaza movement – as carrying a coffin with the Israeli flag? No one in this group has sought to kill Israelis. In fact, it was 9 Free Gaza humanitarians that were shot by Israeli soldiers.

    It’s slander, and it feeds ridiculous stereotypes that Palestinians or Arabs and their supporters are violent terrorists.

    Cheap, trashy tabloid info-tainment is all Macleans has become.

  4. “Cheap, trashy tabloid info-tainment is all Macleans has become.”

    become? You mean there was a time when it wasn’t?

  5. Pingback: UBC Insiders | Canadian Boat to Gaza accuses AMS of Defamation

  6. Can’t strike but your university harbours a man who has called for the murder of journalist Julian Assange.

    Tom Flanagan is not fit to teach you.

    Turn your back on him.

    Julian Assange is the bravest journalist to ever walk the face of the earth.

    Here is a link to an article written by a lawyer who has represented Julian in the past. In this story you will find out the truth about the charges the Swedish authorities are trying to slander the good name of Julian Assange with:

  7. Vancouver attorney files complaint against Tom Flanagan to see him Charged With Encitement to Murder:

  8. This is why I cancelled my subscription last year. MacLeans = Canadian Tabloid Journalism at it’s worst. Well…Sun Media Corp. is still worse, but at least everybody knows what they are about. MacLeans pretends to be a voice of reason and justice in Canada, and then publish crap like this. All i need to say is: Hamas won fair elections in 2006, and since they weren’t who we wanted to win, Western Powers decided to make them a terrorist organization. Peace and Love to all.

  9. @Simon: Dude, you’re picking on the wrong crowd: Tom Flanagan is at U of C (not UBC). If he was at UBC, I’d be protesting in front of his office everyday. Even I don’t think UBC is backward enough to tolerate that joker. Thanks for the Straight article though.

    @Kat: I’m sorry to have to confess that I’m not surprised that a UBC student (which I’m assuming you to be, given your fervent support for them) confuses the direction of an arrow of causation: my claim is that it is my objective observation that UBC has become more conservative over the last couple of years, a consequence of which is a reactionary AMS President, not the other way around. It’s deduction, not induction.

    When I was in Toronto, I kept hearing about all the progressive things that were happening here, and now that I’ve come back, all I see is a sea of reactionary zombies, who as it turns out are alert enough to attack the four people on campus who are trying to challenge the status quo. I honestly don’t care that much if the donation is processed or blocked, but what bugs me is the way this debate was carried out: through slanderous lies that’d make Donald Rumsfeld blush.

    Anyway, I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time responding to this.

  10. Pingback: The Canadian Boat to Gaza is legal, ethical and necessary |