Canadian Author Censored & Deemed "Security Risk" by Concordia University


University Risk Assessment Committee Revokes Approval for September 11 (5th anniversary) Reading of Canadian Novel, North of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006 author, David Bernans (who is also a Concordia graduate student, a former part-time Concordia Political Science professor, a recent Concordia Graduate Student Association president) planned a Concordia University reading from his historical novel, North of 9/11 (Cumulus Press, 2006). The event was approved then later revoked by University security, deeming Bernans a security risk.

David Cozac of PEN Canada, an international association formed in 1926 to defend freedom of expression and raise awareness of that right, is quoted in Concordia University Student Newspaper, The Link, as stating, “It seems to us at this point that [Bernans] is being silenced. The University hasn’t come out clearly as to why the event was cancelled.”

The fictional plot of North of 9/11 is set against the backdrop of actual events at Concordia University in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as seen from the perspective of student characters active in anti-war politics and Palestinian solidarity organizing.

As a member of the University community, Bernans wants to read from his novel and share his thoughts about the five years Concordians have lived through since September 11, 2001. The reading event failed a risk assessment by Concordia’s Risk Assessment Committee, headed by Vice President Services, Michael Di Grappa.

On June 13, 2006, Bernans filed the room-booking request for September 11, 2006. On July 20, he was sent an email informing him that security had approved the event. Four days later, Bernans received another email informing him that security had changed its mind and denied approval for the event (no reason was given). Apparently, a risk assessment had been done over the weekend to see what risks were involved in students and faculty hearing readings from a novel about 9/11.

There is a growing public campaign in support of Bernans. The University’s Graduate Students Association has passed a motion in support of Bernans’ freedom of speech and is calling for a review of the Risk Assessment Committee’s procedures, and for a seat on that Committee. York University professor, David Noble, has said that by officially blocking Bernans’ scheduled Fall reading, “the university, already an embarrassment of academic servility, has dramatized both the power of art and its own fear of that power. Another proud victory of art over authority. Bravo Bernans!”

Bernans still hopes to hold the event at Concordia and seeks to raise awareness about other draconian constraints on freedom of speech at the University. The event has recently been included in the McGill Public Interest Research Group’s September 11 memorial: 9/11 - 5 YEARS AFTER on the McGill University campus.

An excerpt from North of 9/11 (chapter 2: September 11, 2001) is available online at:

Contact info: David Widgington, publisher — 514.523.1975


(This act of censorship inspired PEN Canada to fire off this letter.)

Michael di Grappa
Vice-President, Services
Concordia University
Montreal QC

30 August 2006

Dear Mr di Grappa,

I am writing in my capacity as President of PEN Canada, an independent, nonprofit organization that works to defend freedom of expression both in Canada and internationally.

It has come to our attention that David Bernans, an author, Concordia graduate student and a Concordia-based researcher, has been prevented from holding a reading of his recently-released novel North of 9/11 at the Concordia University campus on September 11, 2006. This, in spite of a successful book launch at the Simone de Beauvoir Centre at Concordia University on May 17, 2006.

According to our information, Mr Bernans sought to do some readings from his novel and share his thoughts about, in particular, the five years that the Concordia community has lived through since 11 September 2006. In mid-June, Mr Bernans filed a room booking request for September 11, 2006. He filled out all necessary applications fully. The following month, on July 20, he received an e-mail informing him that security had approved his event. On July 23, Mr Bernans was sent another email informing him that security had denied approval for his event. No reason was given. When he enquired about which e-mail to believe, Mr Bernans was told that his event had been approved “by mistake”. Apparently, it had failed a risk assessment by Concordia’s risk management team. The assessment had been done to see what risks were involved in students and faculty hearing readings from a novel about 9/11.

To date, Mr Bernans has yet to receive an explanation for the decision by Concordia not to allow him to hold his event on campus. We find it troubling that a risk assessment committee exists – one that has the power to silence individuals, especially critical voices, who wish to speak freely in an academic setting, where it is generally expected that a range of opinions is allowed. The action taken against Mr Bernans would constitute a violation of academic freedom and freedom of expression in general.

PEN Canada respectfully asks that you provide a written explanation for the decision to reject Mr Bernans’s application to hold a public reading. PEN Canada would also request that the mandate of the risk assessment committee be reviewed such that the possibility of silencing other individuals at Concordia University not be repeated.


Constance Rooke
President, PEN Canada
CC: Claude Lajeunesse, President, Concordia University
David Bernans


(Mr Bernans' poison pen retort to his censorship.)

Confession of a 9/11 terrorist

We terrorists are a resourceful lot, sharing tips and networking via the Internet. My network extends beyond Concordia to as far away as McGill.

by David Bernans
August 30, 2006

Because I believe so strongly in my cause, I didn't recognize it until now. But recent events have forced a stark realization upon me: I am a terrorist. This is my confession.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, I have been secretly plotting. My evil plan would have brought an explosion to the downtown Sir George Williams campus of Concordia University in Montreal. And to add insult to injury, the terrorist act was to occur on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York.

Luckily for the innocent youth of that great university, my terror plot was foiled by a crack team of investigators. Concordia's risk assessment committee saw through the literary veil of the event booking request. The title, “9/11 Retrospective” sounded innocent enough. But they read the event description and saw that I would be reading aloud from my so-called “novel” (or, as security experts refer to it, a “blueprint of terror”).

The historical novel, North of 9/11 (Cumulus Press), takes place during and in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001. It is the story of Palestinian solidarity and anti-war activists who face repression at the hands of Concordia's draconian administration and become the targets of an RCMP counter-terrorism investigation.

How authorities allowed Cumulus Press to publish this terrorist propaganda escapes me. But the madness came to an end when Concordia's risk assessment committee put its foot down and decided to ban the public reading of the book I had secretly plotted for the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

Concordia students, staff and faculty are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief now that they have been saved from my criminal scheme. They need not fear being subjected to critical perspectives on a day when only jingoistic patriotic slogans should be heard.

But we terrorists are a resourceful lot, sharing tips and networking via the Internet. My network extends beyond Concordia to as far away as McGill (a full five city blocks from Concordia) where security measures are much more lax. With a new title and new event sponsors (QPIRG McGill), we were able to conspire to do another explosive book reading. This time, authorities were not nearly as vigilant.

“Troubling Directions North of 9/11” will be taking place in McGill's Leacock building from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. And it will be taking place precisely as I had originally calculated for maximum impact, on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.

Once the explosion hits McGill there will no doubt be a flurry of new security measures. International flights will ban all reading material except the National Post, universities will close down their libraries and book-sniffing dogs will be used by the RCMP's counter-terrorism unit.

But they cannot stop the coming battle between critically minded people and the war on terror machine. If we cannot read our books publicly, we will circulate articles and reviews clandestinely on the Internet. We will form secret book-reading societies with secret handshakes and decoder rings.

I did not write this confession because I have any remorse for my actions. In fact, I am more convinced than ever that the most dangerous terror we face in the world — from Afghanistan to Canada, from Lebanon and Gaza to Israel, and from Iraq to the U.S. — is war on terror terror. That is why I wrote North of 9/11.

I chose to write a fictional confession instead of an article because the new post-9/11 reality is so surreal that fiction is the only way to really make it understandable. That is also why I wrote North of 9/11.

David Bernans is the author of North of 9/11 (Cumulus Press, 2006). He is a graduate student at Concordia University and a former President of the Concordia Graduate Students Association. He is currently engaged in a campaign for free speech at Concordia. More information on the campaign will be available at Cumulus Press.

Since when is reading a book

Since when is reading a book a security risk?

These are strange days...

Ever since military police

Ever since military police with machine guns stand in airports making sure we don't take face wash onto the plane.

this is retarded just like

this is retarded

just like that fake shill new hampshire professor


Do you agree with President Bush when he likens the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism with the fight against Nazis and communists? * 169234 responses

Yes. Bin Laden and others are the Hitlers and Stalins of our times.

Maybe. But I'm going to need some more convincing one way or the other.

No. This is just dishonest, warmongering designed to scare voters about national security in time for this fall's elections.
Not a scientific survey. Click to learn more. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.

Exactly what is retarded?

'this is retarded just like
Submitted by RANDKILLER (not verified) on Thu, 08/31/2006 - 5:34pm.
this is retarded

just like that fake shill new hampshire professor'

very interesting post. What exactly is retarded? To whom do you refer in you accusation: "just like that take shill new hampshire professor"? Every time I hear a 'shill-ish' post, I just can't help asking the purported shill to explain herself,himself. I have no tolerance for actual shills. In this case 'purported' looks much like substantiated.


This guy Confessed! See his

This guy Confessed!


Cumulus Press Author to Defy Concordia 9/11 Security Ban

Bernans Boycotts Risk Assessment Committee for Public Reading of Novel, North of 9/11

Controversial Canadian author, David Bernans, has accepted an invitation to read from his novel, North of 9/11 (Cumulus Press, 2006), at the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore despite the University Risk Assessment Committee’s refusal of his original room-booking request.
Bernans says that he refuses to submit a second request for the September 11, 2006 event “because the first one was filled out properly and I’m boycotting Concordia’s Risk Assessment Committee.” He questions the committee’s legitimacy because “it doesn’t give reasons for its decisions, its membership is secret and it really appears to be accountable to nobody except itself.”
Bernans is challenging the University to meet the following conditions before his boycott is lifted:
1. All Risk Assessment Committee past and present membership must be made public.
2. There must be a public review of the Risk Assessment Committee’s policies, procedures and past decisions.
3. The committee must offer reasons for the decision made immediately following each negative risk assessment (none have been given so far in Bernans’ case).
4. Undergraduate and graduate students, full and part-time faculty and university staff should all have representation on the committee appointed by their respective representative
Cumulus Press supports the author’s decision to follow through with the public reading of his novel.
Publisher, David Widgington, agrees that the Risk Assessment Committee’s policies, procedures and past decisions should be reviewed. “The way the Committee dealt with our author’s request,” Widgington says, “with the decision reversal and without providing a reason, proves its arbitrary nature and unveils its capacity to censor events its members don’t like. I challenge the University PR department’s denial of the Committee’s role in the decision.”
Cumulus Press acknowledges the support of organisations like PEN Canada, which is dedicated to freedom of expression, and The Public Service Alliance of Canada for writing letters to Michael di Grappa, head of the Risk Assessment Committee, questioning the committee’s decision in Bernans’
case, as well as its role and decision-making process.
Bernans, a Concordia student, is calling for a general boycott. “Until these reasonable demands are met,” he says, “I encourage Concordia community members to refuse to fill out the booking forms.”
Bernans filed an access to information request on July 26 regarding Concordia’s actions in his dossier, but the University has failed to respond within the required 20-day deadline.
Bernans’ satirical “Confession of a 9/11 terrorist” is proliferating through the blogosphere, confirming a fatigue of ‘war on terror’ hyperbole.
An excerpt from North of 9/11 (chapter 2: September 11, 2001) is available online.