9/11 Truth conference sparks review at UQAM

9/11 Truth conference sparks review at UQAM

Montreal's largest university is reviewing its room rental policies after a controversial conference. Richard Gage and David Ray Griffin, two prominent speakers for the 9/11 Truth movement, hosted a conference at the Université du Quebec à Montreal (UQAM) May 3.

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911 Truth) organized the conference  to “reach out to the university crowd,” said Jean-Francois Ranger, the event organizer.

The AE911 Truth website promotes initiating an “open and independent investigation” into the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001.

They claim past investigations into the 9/11 attacks have ignored “sufficient evidence” that the skyscrapers collapsed “not by jet impact and fires, but by controlled demolition with explosives,” according to their website.

“We believe there is a huge need for an investigation into what happened. We have more questions than we have answers,” said Jean-Francois Ranger, the event organizer for AE911 Truth.

Ranger said UQAM was "a random choice" for the conference location. “We approached a few universities," he said.  UQAM  "had a big hall that we needed."

Julien Tourreille, a UQAM research fellow in strategic and diplomatic studies, said he did not oppose the conference but regretted its association with the university. “I just think it was unfortunate for the university to have had its name associated with this event,” Tourreille said.

“The university did not invite nor organize this conference, but the organizers used the name of the university, which was very clearly mentioned on their flyers, to bring some kind of legitimacy to their event,” Tourreille said.

Some also expressed concerns about the right to freedom of expression over the fallout from the conference. Francine Jacques, head of media relations at UQAM, told a Montreal daily after the conference that the school's rules about who could present there would be revised.

"The university's room rental policy is 'being revised to be more clearly in agreement with the university's mission,' " La Presse reported.

"There are some things that we certainly don't want, and there are others for which the situation is fuzzier, as is the case here," Jacques said. 

“Free speech is a major principle and right,” said Toureille, who said he is opposed to the theories presented by the AE911 organization.

“But free speech is not a synonym of lies and denial of ethics. With freedom comes responsibilities; with free speech comes the responsibility to honestly admit that your positions can be wrong or untrue and thus stop promoting those positions or arguments.”

Despite the controversy following the conference, Ranger said the conference itself faced little opposition. “It was a major success,” he said.

“We don’t face as much controversy as we used to. The event was sold out with 730 people attending. A lot of people really wanted to hear what Richard Gage and David Ray Griffin had to say about this topic,” Ranger said.

The AE911 Truth group handed out flyers in Montreal to spread information about the conference. “People were stopping to grab flyers and ask questions. The interest for this information in the streets of Montreal has never been higher,” Ranger said.