rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Why does the University of Toronto's radio station promote genocide denial?

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: Sameer Vasta/Flickr

Commemorations to mark the 19th anniversary this month of the genocide against the Tutsi people of Rwanda have been taking place everywhere throughout the world. But not quite everywhere.

Human nature remains an often cruel and capricious creature. Just as there remain deniers of the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust, so there are various groups who, each for its own squalid reasons, deny the truth of what happened in Rwanda. The pain this causes to survivors and their families hardly needs elaborating.

The truth is simple enough: While the world stood by (where it wasn't complicit), a high-ranking cabal of Hutu extremists in 1994 came perilously close to achieving its deranged goal: the extermination of all Tutsi from the face of Rwanda.

The evidence for this statement is both overwhelming and definitive. It includes, among others:

-  the direct confessions of many of the genocidaires themselves, not least Jean Kambanda, the man who was Prime Minister of the regime conducting the genocide;
-  the findings of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda;
-  the testimonies of thousands of survivors;
-  the unanimous accounts of the few foreigners who were in Rwanda during the genocide, including Canadians General Romeo Dallaire, Major Brent Beardsley, Major Phil Lancaster and Dr. James Orbinski;
-  journalists and UN officials on the scene;
-  and finally, the dozens of scholars who have studied the genocide.

In the world of genocide scholars, there is no more doubt about the genocide in Rwanda than there is of the Holocaust. Yet deniers continue to spread their lies and distortions.

Surprisingly enough, prominent among the disseminators of denial is the University of Toronto's radio station, CIUT, and its regular weekly program The Taylor Report. For many years, this show, named after its host Phil Taylor, has regularly offered time on his program and space on its accompanying website to known Rwanda genocide deniers. The vast majority who affirm the genocide do not appear.

Taylor's home page, for example, has long carried a blurb for a book by Robin Philpot, perhaps Canada's most prominent denier, called Rwanda 1994: Colonialism dies hard, insisting that there was no genocide of the Tutsi at all. On the contrary. It was all a diabolical American plot to use a group of Tutsi guerillas known as the RPF to end French influence in the Congo and replace it with the U.S. Among America's most reliable assets in this deadly initiative, according to Philpot, was a Canadian soldier named Romeo Dallaire.

There is, in the real world, not a shred of evidence for this paranoid fantasy.

Philpot also argues, as do other deniers featured on The Taylor Report, that many people were killed in 1994 by both sides. There was no planned and methodically executed genocide, no conspiracy by armed Hutu forces and militias against defenseless Tutsi, no million Tutsi slaughtered, no hate radio systematically inciting Hutu to be  merciless towards the Tutsi.

In the 10 years or so that his show has appeared on CIUT, Mr. Taylor has given an inordinate amount of attention not only to Philpot but to a tiny band that constitutes North America's most notorious deniers of the Rwanda genocide -- Christopher Black, Peter Erlinder, Ann Garrison, David Katz, Keith Harmon Snow, Cynthia McKinney.

Is it really possible that CIUT has an audience riveted by deniers of the Rwanda genocide but indifferent to the views, say, of a Dallaire or an Orbinski or any of the many scholars who've written on the subject? Yet it appears that none has ever appeared on this program.

Some time ago, I asked the then-president of the University of Toronto whether even within the framework of free speech, it was appropriate for the university's radio station to so blatantly promote genocide denial. He explained that the station had editorial independence but agreed to seek information from CIUT's then-station manager. He reported back to me that the latter disagreed with my assessment of CIUT's coverage of Rwanda and would keep The Taylor Report running as it was. That was the end of that, until now.

I soon realized that I had made a fatal strategic mistake. I failed to ask the benchmark question that always illuminates these kinds of issues: If a CIUT program denied the Holocaust, would the University administration still choose not to intervene?

I did not make the same mistake this time in my recent email exchanges with the station's present station manager, Ken Stowar. Mr. Stowar didn't share my concerns. He told me that "CIUT aims to offer listeners as broad a range of perspectives and opinions as possible. I take every step to ensure that the highest  standards of taste and decency are upheld at CIUT." He disagreed with my criticisms of The Taylor Report while noting that some of General Dallaire's lectures have been broadcast by CUIT. But Dallaire has not appeared on The Taylor Report.

Finally, in response to my direct question, Mr. Stowar wrote: "No, I would not allow a denier of the Holocaust on CIUT." Nor, I would confidently assert, would the University of Toronto, editorial independence and free speech notwithstanding. Yet the genocide of Rwanda's Tutsi, as unequivocal a reality as that of Europe's Jews, is apparently fair game to both Mr. Stowar and the University.

How do we account for this egregious double standard operating at the University for so many years? Surely the University must be told in no uncertain terms that even one day more is too many.

Photo: Sameer Vasta/Flickr 

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.