CAUT calls for resignation of "Science" Minister for interfering in academic conference on Israel/Palestine

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Unionist
CAUT calls for resignation of "Science" Minister for interfering in academic conference on Israel/Palestine

This is incredible - kudos to CAUT for again standing tall for academic freedom against this brutal government:

[url=http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2009/10/c4859.html][... calls for Minister Goodyear's resignation over political interference and attack on academic freedom[/color][/url]

Quote:

OTTAWA, June 10 /CNW Telbec/ - The organization representing more than
65,000 academic and general staff at 121 universities and colleges across
Canada is calling for the resignation of Minister of State for Science and
Technology Gary Goodyear following his unprecedented efforts to interfere with
funding for a major academic conference.

CAUT has learned that Goodyear telephoned the president of the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to ask him to reconsider a
peer-reviewed decision to fund an academic conference called
"Israel/Palestine: Mapping models of statehood and prospects for peace" being
held at York University later this month.

"It's unprecedented for a minister - let alone a minister from the
department that funds the granting councils - to intervene personally with a
granting council president to suggest that he review funding for an academic
conference," said CAUT executive director James Turk. "This kind of direct
political interference in a funding decision made through an independent,
peer-reviewed process is unacceptable and sets a very dangerous precedent."

Turk said that a principal role of universities in democratic societies
is to allow a full, open debate of controversial issues.

"For a minister to intervene in an effort to derail an academic
conference on behalf of special interest groups is simply unacceptable, and
compromises the integrity and public purpose of universities," said Turk.

"That's precisely what happened here - when you are the minister from the
department that funds the granting councils, and you call the president of a
granting council to ask him to reconsider funding, the message is very clear."

For further information: James L. Turk, Executive Director, (613)
726-5176; Kerry Pither, Communications Officer, (613) 726-5186; mobile (613)
294-2203

Unionist

[url=http://www.yorku.ca/ipconf/index.html]Here is the website of the conference.[/url]

[url=http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/11/conference]Here is a more detailed story[/url] which shows that the opposition to the conference originated with the fascist "Jewish" Defence League:

Quote:

Gary Toft, spokesman for Goodyear’s office, would not disclose the names of any of the other groups whose concern prompted the minister’s call for action. He did, however, note that the minister had received “hundred of e-mails” from Canadians who were worried about the nature of the conference. This is the first time during Goodyear’s tenure, Toft confirmed, that he has asked a granting council to reconsider a funding decision. Toft did not know if prior ministers had made similar moves.

And the story is heating up:

Quote:
In formal response to Goodyear’s request, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is expected to announce whether it will mandate a second peer review of the conference’s funding request at some point today.

Caissa

Incredibly stupid on Goodyear's part. Do these neandrethals have any idea of the purpose of universities?

Snert Snert's picture

I would agree, though if CUPE urged York U. to shut down the conference over an Israeli speaker, I expect many here would call that courageous, even though the result (no conference) would be the same.

Anyway, Goodyear needs to get out of the office and get some fresh air, for good.

Unionist

It actually has little to do with stupidity or universities. It's the Harper-Kenney line of becoming the most pro-Israeli mass murderer government in the world - the first to stop funding the PA when Hamas was elected - the first to boycott Durban II - and now following up with their threats to crush anyone who raises their voice against apartheid and genocide. Unfortunately, they are joined in this chorus by the likes of Ignatieff, and unfortunately by the silence or near-silence of the other opposition parties. It is a very dangerous time for freedom in this country.

 

Unionist

Snert wrote:

... if CUPE urged York U. to shut down the conference over an Israeli speaker, I expect many here would call that courageous ...

Try speaking for yourself, and leave the "many here" to express their views in a less caricatured fashion than you choose to attribute to them.

St. Paul's Prog...

I agree that this is wrong.  I have no respect for the arguments of those who promote the so-called "one state solution" - it is at best a very naive utopianism - but if some academics want to have a conference about it should not be subject to political interference.  It may be an unpopular idea but people have the right to express it.

I also thought it was wrong for the protesters to try to stop Daniel Pipes from speaking at York a few years ago.  He is repugnant to me but he has a right to speak. 

 

Unionist

St. Paul's Progressive wrote:

I also thought it was wrong for the protesters to try to stop Daniel Pipes from speaking at York a few years ago.

Do you detect a difference between protesters trying to stop someone from speaking, and the government trying to stop someone from speaking - or is it all the same to you?

Luckily, the new generation of students has also figured out the dangers that fascism poses to their future:

[url=http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2009/11/c5528.html][... Students Call for Minister Goodyear to Resign[/color][/url]

Quote:
The National Graduate Caucus (NGC) of the Canadian Federation of Students has joined the call for Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear to resign over political interference with internal peer-review processes at an independent granting council.

In an unprecedented move, Goodyear asked the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to reconsider its financial support of a conference scheduled for York University later this month. SSHRC's decision to award funding was based on a long-recognised peer review process conducted by independent scholars across a number of disciplines.

"The independence of research granting agencies is a major pillar of our academic system," said Megan Nicholson, Chairperson of the National Graduate Caucus. "For the Minister to involve himself in the awarding of this funding not only constitutes a dangerous precedent of political interference in the Canadian research community, but it also undermines Canada's academic reputation abroad.

This latest move by the Minister continues a dangerous trend by the Harper Government of directing research funding to score political points with little regard for academic merit. In the 2009 Federal Budget new funding for graduate students in SSHRC programmes was exclusively assigned for "business related" research-representing less than 10% of all SSHRC programmes-and continued the government's policies of preferentially funding commercially-oriented research and development over curiosity-based research.

"Researchers know best when it comes to funding and directing academic inquiry," said Nicholson. "Graduate students are starting to wonder whether it is academic merit or the political position of government that determines their access to research funding."

The National Graduate Caucus (NGC) of the Canadian Federation of Students is the national voice of graduate students in Canada, uniting more than 50,000 graduate students from campuses in every province.

For further information: Megan Nicholson, National Graduate Caucus Chairperson, (647) 938-9314 (cell); Gaétan Beaulière, National Graduate Caucus Deputy Chairperson, (819) 208-4642 (cell).

St. Paul's Prog...

Yes Unionist the government doing it is worse, I agree.

Star Spangled C...

In an academic institution of all settings, it's completely indefensible.

Snert Snert's picture

Speech gets shut down either way.

When the government does it, then you also have a corrupt government to deal with, but from the point of view of the exchange of ideas and academic freedom, it really doesn't matter who does the shutting down.

Unionist

What utter tripe: "Citizen gets executed by the state, citizen gets murdered by a neighbour, citizen dead in both cases, no difference, so what, who cares." I hope you just make these comments for the sake of arguing rather than because you sincerely believe them.

 

Snert Snert's picture

I'm not saying it's identical in every respect.  I said that from the point of view of the exchange of ideas and academic freedom the effect is the same.

 

Similarly, while we may be more concerned with a government that executes citizens than by a citizen who does, from the point of view of the corpse, it's pretty much the same. And to continue your analogy, surely we would be interested in vigorously opposing both the government AND a citizen killing citizens, wouldn't we? I'd like to think we'd do the same in the case of speech, but we don't. And when it's "sometimes OK" to shut down speech that kind of dilutes the gravity of situations like this.

Unionist

Now you're starting to worry me. Please, please tell me you're just honing your debating skills. Here's another one for you:

"Harper stopped Galloway visiting Canada. The gravity of that situation is diluted because Galloway once opposed Le Pen visiting the U.K."

Am I getting warm?

 

 

Snert Snert's picture

Sort of.  Actually, I wasn't as clear as I should have been.  The gravity of the situation, both in this case and in your example, is unaffected.  Shut down speech is shut down speech.

What I meant was the gravity of the pious concern.  In the case of Galloway, it was downright comical watching him bray about freedoms and rights he himself disrespects when it's convenient to him.  Similarly, Harper braying about Bob Rae being barred from Sri Lanka is kind of funny right now too, for the same reason.

I think it would be so much easier to get on board with promoting a free exchange of ideas at universities if that were a consistent goal.  Is there any reason it can't be?  Is there any real reason why we couldn't simply say that outside of the reach of hate crime laws, no speech, presentation, film screening, public appearance or conference at a Canadian university should be shut down by anyone?   That would include this conference, and it would also include Pipes.  Could we live with that, or no?

Unionist

This is about our government and what it does in our name and with our money. I would chase Pipes or Le Pen out of my neighbourhood if I saw him approach. If they came to my university or workplace, I'd organize as many demonstrators as I could to drown them out and boot them out. Yet I would vigorously oppose any government attempt to use financial blackmail against an academic conference which chose to invite such speakers - short of infringement on the Criminal Code. That's why I and many others condemned (here and elsewhere) the government's threats to bar Shaykh Ul-Haq in 2006 from visiting, at the demand of the CJC, the Muslim Canadian Congress, some self-styled "Hindu" group, and the increasingly ironically named "Egale". That's why I and many others call for the repeal of Section 13 of the CHRA - why we condemned the attempts to use state powers of repression against Ezra Levant, Marc Steyn, Free Dominion...

But you don't get the difference, so I'll stop there.

 

NDPP

Good for CAUT. Too bad they were mute on the visit of George Bush to U of A. Ditto CFS

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
But you don't get the difference, so I'll stop there.

 

You're kind of right. I totally get that there's a difference between a government shutting down speech and a group of self-elected hotheads shutting down speech. What I don't get is why one is good. What's good about vigilantes deciding that someone should not be allowed to speak? Why is that something we should support?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
 What's good about vigilantes deciding that someone should not be allowed to speak? Why is that something we should support?

Because, first of all, it's not vigilanteism; it's their freedom of speech, their freedom of assembly, and their right to protest. Secondly, because their judgment was impeccable: Daniel Pipes is the lowest of the low; a racist liar and a fascist who does not hesitate to silence others, given an opportunity.

NDPP

NoDifferencePartyPooper wrote:

Good for CAUT. Too bad they were mute on the visit of George Bush to U of A. Ditto CFS

NDPP Actually it was Bush's henchperson Condi Rice who visited U of A and against which there was no opposition from either CAUT or CFS

Snert Snert's picture

The problem with that is that once you endorse the idea that a group of people should be permitted to disrupt, block, hijack or prevent a legal event under the dubious umbrella of "free speech" or "freedom of assembly" it becomes that much harder to tell, say, Freddy Phelps and the Westboro nutjobs that it's not OK when they do it.  As appealing as it sounds to have a world in which the only speech is speech I approve of, I think overall I'd rather have who can speak and who cannot decided by the law than by a group of individuals.

And I suspect that all it would take for you to agree with me, albeit temporarily, would be to change whose ox is being gored.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
As appealing as it sounds to have a world in which the only speech is speech I approve of, I think overall I'd rather have who can speak and who cannot decided by the law than by a group of individuals.

OTOH, appealing as it sounds to have the orderly world which you would approve of, in which conflict never arises, I think overall I'd rather let the ebb and flow of debate and confrontation in society continue. People can be a pain in the ass, but then again, the law is an ass.

aka Mycroft

B'nai Brith is really having a bad year. Everything they've been attempting lately, banning Seven Jewish Children, banning QuAIA from the Pride Parade and now this has backfired horribly on them and undermined their position and the credibility of Israel's advocates in Canada.

 

remind remind's picture

And now they have added another stake in their coffin, with their latest snith line at York U.

miles

I think that this is very simple no academic and no academic conferernce should be banned. I am against all academic boycotts whether they be sponsored by friends or those i would consider adversaries

Unionist

Great speech, miles, but you didn't comment on the thread topic, which is about funding and interference.

miles

actually I did. their should be no interference. I do not care if it is a Canadian university program, a Canadian University professor or a prof from Israel or Britain etc

I was against the british boycott call, and am against a Canadian boycott call and am against the government stating what can happen at a university campus. The only caveat is if proof of violation of laws can be shown which in this case they cant be

 

Nice try unionist but guess what we are on the same side here.

remind remind's picture

So perhaps this is why the UJA unleased their little National Post attack on York?

josh

"This sham of a conference, which questions the Jewish state's very right to exist, promises to be a veritable 'who's who' of anti-Israel propagandists," Frank Dimant, the vice president of B'nai Brith Canada, said in statement. "This is not an issue of academic freedom, despite the great lengths the university is going to, to try to paint it in that light. It is purely and simply about delegitimizing the Jewish state and its supporters here at home - an exercise that runs far afield of so-called legitimate academic discourse."

B'nai Brith also stated that the conference will host speakers who "advocate for the destruction of the Jewish state," "reject compromise" and "justify terrorism."

Ed Beck, president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, said yesterday that it was clear that, "the conference premise and configuration represents a clear bias against Israel and allows for a discussion of [its] delegitimization." While his nonprofit organization has not taken an official stance on this conference, Beck said many its nearly 20,000 members were concerned that "vulnerable institutions such as York University only [give] a seemingly increasing sense of academic and intellectual legitimacy to anti-Israel forces which, in the long run, constitutes a cumulative, serious debilitating attack on Israel in terms of erosion of support."

"The speakers range from the extreme left - those who say Israel should be wiped off the map - to Israelis who are quite hesitant about going," Gerald Steinberg, the executive director of the Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor, told Haaretz. "Some of them said they realized that it'll be a mini Durban," he added, referring to the controversial UN-sponsored conference on racism."

 

 

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1094640.html

remind remind's picture

Nice to see they are stating what will happen before it happens, and why in the hell do they believe people should support Israel 100% of the time, no matter what they do?

And support for Israel's aparthide actions eroding is a good thing, not a bad one.

Unionist

[url=http://www.caut.ca/pages.asp?page=826]Minister Goodyear’s office threatens federal budget funding for SSHRC according to email obtained through ATIP request[/url]

Quote:
CAUT first learned in June that Minister Goodyear had telephoned SSHRC president Chad Gaffield to insist on reconsideration of a peer-reviewed decision to fund an academic conference called “Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace” held at York University later that month.

“At the time we considered this personal intervention by the minister so serious we called for his resignation,” said CAUT executive director James Turk. “Little did we know then that the phone call was apparently accompanied by a threat from the minister’s office to withhold increases in federal budget funding.”

CAUT posted the original email [url=http://www.caut.ca/uploads/Hon_Gary_Goodyear.PDF]here (PDF)[/url].

James Turk follows up this revelation by again calling for the Minister's resignation.

 

George Victor

This was released to the press by CAUT on Sept. 28.  Has anyone seen a peep about this in their local or national media? Those bastions of democratic freedoms?