A breakfast hosted by a Toronto evangelical university featuring former U.S. president George W. Bush was abruptly cancelled Wednesday amid a backlash from a number of its students.
Bush, who served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009, was scheduled to speak next Tuesday at an invitation-only breakfast hosted by Tyndale University College and Seminary.
The breakfast was sponsored by Prem Watsa, CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings, who is also a supporter of Tyndale.
But in a brief announcement on the school's website Wednesday, the institution announced the cancellation of the event.
"Unfortunately, due to scheduling change, the breakfast on Sept. 20, 2011 has been cancelled," the school said on its website.
No other details were given.
The decision came as a number of former students began circulating a petition condemning the event.
Bush, who was in power when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, dedicated much of his two terms in office to the war on terrorism. Some students at the school felt Bush's stance on terrorism went against the school's stance on peace.
Earlier in the week, a school official defended the decision to host Bush.
"Tyndale believes in freedom of speech and took this opportunity to host a historic figure, and to acquaint a new group of people with Tyndale," Gary Nelson, president and vice-chancellor at Tyndale said on the school's Facebook page.
Nelson said Bush's speech was intended to launch a series of special guests.
"In the spirit of free of speech and thought, the events will feature a variety of influential individuals speaking on the role and issues surrounding privately funded, publicly accountable higher education and faith," he wrote. "Tyndale does not necessarily endorse the views or actions of the speakers."