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By Melanie Patten
HALIFAX (CP) - A controversial debate on racial diversity went without incident in a small radio studio Tuesday after Saint Mary's University scrubbed the public event over security concerns.
Self-described "race realist" Jared Taylor and philosophy professor Peter March exchanged views for 90 minutes on a CJCH radio talk show in Halifax.
"I was delighted to have an opportunity to air my views," Taylor told reporters after the debate.
"I was sorry that we had a little bit in the way of time constraints, but I think I was able to make my basic points, and I believe professor March was able to do the same."
March, who was already scheduled to appear on the program, asked if Taylor could be invited after Saint Mary's announced the debate would not go ahead Tuesday night as planned.
Taylor, who is with American Renaissance magazine in Virginia and advocates the separation of races, was roughed up by protesters in January when he tried to give a speech at a Halifax hotel.
Tuesday's event attracted little attention as only two protesters showed up outside the station, carrying placards that read: "SMU faculty against racism."
They left before the call-in show ended.
Ryan, an African-Canadian caller, said he thought the program had merit because it generated talk about racism, although he disagreed with Taylor's views.
"I think the last thing we need here in Nova Scotia is talk about separation of people," he said.
Another caller, named Tim, congratulated the CJCH for doing the show.
"I think we should let anyone debate whatever the heck they want, whether we agree with them or not," he added.
"Completely on the debate itself, unfortunately Mr. Taylor won. Unfortunately."
The host of the show, Rick Howe, warned that he would intervene if he thought the debate was in danger of violating Canada's anti-hate laws.
The broadcast also featured a seven-second delay - a precaution the show always uses.
Before inviting callers to air their views, Howe said he had his own worries about doing the debate.
"I was very nervous about that hour and a half, but I thought that we covered the territory well," he said. "We did, indeed, have a good, wide-open debate on this issue."
Howe said it was important for listeners to make up their own minds on Taylor's views.
"People wonder what all the fuss is about," he said. "What is it about this man and his message that prompted the demonstration and the cancellation of his two sessions?"
March is also no stranger to controversy.
A professor at Saint Mary's, March made headlines a year ago after posting cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad as a terrorist on his office door.
The action triggered protests at the university and March eventually took the cartoons down at the insistence of the school.
Scott Bodnarchuk, general manager of the station, said security concerns were addressed before the debate.
The front doors of the station were locked and police were informed the debate was taking place.
"This is a safe environment . . . to hold the debate and let the public give their opinion on the pros and cons of both sides," Bodnarchuk said.
The debate was supposed to take place at Saint Mary's, but the university abruptly cancelled it late Monday afternoon after protesters said they'd be out in full force to voice their opposition to Taylor.
University officials said they were concerned in particular over a posting on an online message board run by self-described white nationalists.
The posting alluded to possibility of someone getting stabbed during the debate, Chuck Bridges, the school's vice-president of external affairs, said Monday.
March said later that he hoped to face off against Taylor again.
He said he planned to speak to the vice-president of Saint Mary's about filming a closed debate with Taylor, and inviting the media to attend.
"It's been a very positive experience," March said.
"I look forward to confronting other people who hold views that I disagree with, and dealing with them in a rational, fair way."


Copyright © 2007 Canadian Press