Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre apologizes over how it handled Jordan Peterson event

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER, 19 Peterson speaks, middle is UofT law professor Brenda Crossman and right is UBC professor Mary Bryson. At the University of Toronto (UofT) professors debated controversial prof Jordan Peterson over gender-specific language. It was a quiet crowd of students and academics with no protests or outbursts. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Just days after it emerged that Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre would not be hosting an event for controversial University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson, the theatre has issued an apology about how it dealt with the proposed lecture.

Late Friday afternoon, a post appeared on the Citadel Theatre’s Facebook page saying the venue “could have handled the Dr. Jordan Peterson rental situation in a far better way.”

“We cancelled a rental agreement based on concerns that Dr. Peterson’s book launch would cause distress to valued members of our community,” reads the post, which is attributed to the theatre’s board of directors and management. “It is not our practice to go against our agreements, and we should have initiated a conversation with Dr. Peterson about this. We apologize.

“This week has reminded us that complex issues deserve exploration and conversation, not polarization.”

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To read the theatre’s full statement, click here.

On Friday morning, Peterson tweeted he would be speaking at Hyatt Place in downtown Edmonton on Feb. 11, in part to promote his new book, 12 Rules for Life.

The new venue for his speaking engagement has already sold out.

Clicking on the “buy tickets” link on the event listing online prompts a message that reads “the merchant has sold out of the product you are attempting to buy.”

Earlier this week, Peterson accused the Citadel Theatre of cancelling his event without explanation and called the decision “regrettable, made in haste, and unprofessional.”

The theatre countered by saying the contract to secure the venue was never finalized and that Peterson had “prematurely announced” the speaking engagement.

“The Citadel Theatre reserves the right to refuse events that are not in keeping with our mandate, values or vision statement,” the theatre said in an earlier statement. “Upon review of this event, we determined this event was one we should refuse on that basis, and advised Dr. Peterson that his request to rent the venue was declined without acceptance of his deposit for the rental.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre declines to host book launch for controversial University of Toronto professor

The theatre’s decision sparked a debate in Alberta’s capital over whether free speech principles were being infringed upon.

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Peterson, a high-profile former Harvard University professor whose Twitter account boasts over 300,000 followers and whose YouTube channel has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, has drawn criticism for positions he’s taken on transgender issues, in particular, for saying he would refuse to use gender-neutral pronouns. In May, The Globe and Mail reported Peterson spoke out at a Senate committee hearing against Bill C-16, legislation aimed at enshrining the rights of transgender people in Canada.

He argued the bill could infringe on freedom of expression and said that both support for the legislation and the belief that biology does not determine gender “stem from the humanities and are entirely ideologically driven.”

Watch below: In November 2017, Mike Drolet filed this report about Lindsay Shepherd, a graduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University, speaking out after the school accused her of violating their policies of trans-phobia for playing a TVO segment featuring polarizing University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson.

Click to play video: 'Critical Thinking Controversy at Wilfrid Laurier University'
Critical Thinking Controversy at Wilfrid Laurier University

Global News reached out to Peterson’s publicity team for comment on the development but was told he was unavailable because he was promoting his book overseas.

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Global News has also reached out to Hyatt Place for comment.

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