Mark Hecht’s Vancouver Sun op-ed sparks reaction from readers and MRU
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
A Vancouver Sun op-ed written by Mount Royal University instructor Mark Hecht, made the argument that “low ethnic diversity is the hallmark of countries with high rates of social cohesion,” according to a Star Calgary article.
The controversial piece was eventually pulled by the Vancouver Sun and The Province online, despite being published in the Sun’s weekend print edition.
“An opinion article by Mark Hecht published in Saturday’s Weekend Review section and online contained views that do not meet the journalistic standards of the Vancouver Sun and do not represent the views of our editors and journalists,” Harold Munro, the Editor in Chief of the Vancouver Sun said.
The Sun later issued an apology for publishing the article.
“We apologize for the publication of the article. We are reviewing our local workflow and editorial processes to ensure greater oversight and accountability so that this does not happen again,” Munro said. “We value the trust that our community and readers place in the Vancouver Sun and we are committed to continuing, every day, to earn that trust.”
The opinion article received varying views from Canadians, many stating Hecht had a right to free speech but the opinion column was still shocking. The issue seemed to come down to free speech versus speaking out against ethnic diversity, which is integral to Canada.
“In a country with free speech, Mark Hecht certainly has a right to his opinion. But to see this published in a country that prides itself on diversity was still jarring. Canada is an overwhelming rebuttal to the idea that diversity weakens us,” wrote Linda Solomon Wood in Canada’s National Observer opinion section.
Many Vancouver Sun readers were not impressed with the publication of the op-ed. The Sun later gave its readers the opportunity to air their concerns over the controversial opinion piece.
“Mark Hecht reads as what a rotten piece of fish smells like in a dumpster. Waves of gag-inducing stench. The Vancouver Sun editorial team should be ashamed of the trash they just published in such a prestigious paper. What crap. I’m sorry you have resorted to such offensive clickbait to get attention. Shame,” Rich Overgaard said in a Sun column.
“Mark Hecht’s argument that economic prosperity and ‘social trust’ are enhanced by policies of racial nationalism and the creation of ethnic ghettos illustrates Canada is not immune from the pastiche fascism that is emerging globally.
“Hecht’s pseudo-academic attack on diversity, tolerance, immigrants and racialized others fits neatly with the ‘science’ of eugenics, the politics of white nationalism and reminds me of the racist, segregationist rhetoric I was surrounded by growing up in the Jim Crow South,” E. Wayne Ross wrote for the Sun.
MRU also weighed in on the issue by releasing a statement from Jonathan Withey, Dean for the Faculty of Science & Technology at the university.
“We understand the concern from members of the community over this op-ed piece in the Vancouver Sun,” Withey said.
Saying that the university “is committed to diversity on our campus, and in the wider community and providing a welcoming learning environment for all,” adding although the university is open to freedom of expression, Hecht’s op-ed does not reflect the views of the department or the university.
“Mount Royal, like all universities, is a place for debate, for freedom of expression and for the respectful exchange of ideas,” Withey said. “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.”
A Canadian Press article said, “Neither Hecht nor Mount Royal indicated whether he still has his job at the university.”
Before the time of publication, a representative from MRU told The Reflector, they didn’t “have an update on the Mark Hecht issue.”