Canadian university professor suspended without pay after challenging woke orthodoxy in online posts
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SACKVILLE, New Brunswick, Canada, May 14, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A tenured professor and doctor of Psychology at a leading Canadian university has been suspended from teaching without pay after posting content online questioning the idea that Canada is sick with systemic racism, as well as criticizing Black Lives Matter (BLM), and challenging the widespread adoption of gender-neutral pronouns.
CBC reports that Dr. Rima Azar of Mount Allison University stated in a personal blog post: “NB [New Brunswick] is NOT racist. Canada is NOT racist. We do not have 'systemic' racism or 'systemic' discrimination. We just have systemic naivety because we are a young country and because we want to save the world.”
In regards to BLM, Azar (writing as 'Bambi') posted the following:
Thus, Dearest New Brunswick along with all its esteemed politicians, PLEASE be mindful of the following:
Bambi urges you not to fall into the trap of caving in to BLM‘s demands, as they will keep asking for more and more (e.g., see what happened in other cities in Canada). Indeed, this movement seems to function like any other radical group, including Islamism. Groups like BLM usually intimidate to get what they want. They infiltrate existing entities/organizations, and… brains! They do not stop. They just push and push. Even if at times they may deceive you by hiding their real agenda, they do not hesitate to use means that you and Bambi would never resort to.
This is why, please do not let Black Lives Matter (BLM) do to NB what Islamists have done to Bambi’s birth country and to its neighbourhood… or what they do to us in the Western’s world, including Canada.
One former student of Dr. Azar’s, who goes by the name of “Izzy”, saw the professor's blog and was offended by the posts. Izzy then posted her own tweets about the “offensive” posts and launched a formal complaint process at Mount Allison University against Azar.
In response to Izzy's formal complaint, a letter was sent from the university to the entire staff/faculty and students, stating that Mount Allison is “committed to maintaining a safe learning and work environment based on respect for all members of the community and we support all efforts to combat systemic racism and sexual violence within our institution and beyond.”
An investigation was initiated and in a follow up letter to the same audience, Robert Hiscock, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the University wrote the following:
Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated at Mount Allison. Students, faculty, and staff deserve to have a safe place to learn and work, and should not have to avoid any class, activity or person because of their race, gender identity or gender expression.
The university has recommended that Azar take a course in “equity, diversity, and inclusion training” and has offered to pay the costs of such a course.
Hiscock states that Azar “will not be teaching this coming fall term.” A GoFundMe campaign launched by Azar earlier this month to support her own legal defence fund, states that she has been suspended without pay.
Mark Mercer, President of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), said in an article for the Epoch Times said that the case will likely lead to “[f]ree and fearless inquiry” into questions such as whether Canada is a systemically racist country becoming “a thing of the past.”
“Having seen what Mount Allison will do to those who utter unapproved views publicly, professors and students will take care not to bring its wrath down on their own heads,” Mercer said.
“Dr. Azar treated no one unfairly, neither by harassing them nor by discriminating against them,” Mercer continued. “She simply expressed her views. The announcement does not say why anyone, whatever their race, gender identity, or gender expression, would have to avoid Dr. Azar or her classes. Dr. Azar has not treated, and, indeed, is not alleged to have treated, anyone unfairly.”
In a letter addressed to the President of Mount Allison, Mercer points out the following:
The Collective Agreement between the Mount Allison Faculty Association and Mount Allison states: “Members of the bargaining unit are entitled, regardless of prescribed doctrine, to freedom in carrying out research and creative activity, and in publishing the results thereof; freedom of teaching and of discussion; freedom to criticize the university and the faculty association; and freedom from institutional censorship. Taking an institutional stand against the views a professor communicates breaches freedom of discussion and might constitute institutional censorship.”
Azar is not the only professor to be “cancelled” by the ever-growing censorship of free speech in Canadian universities. SAFS keeps track of the infringements on academic freedom in the post-secondary institutes and supports professors like Azar who stand for freedom of speech. In 2020/21, SAFS intervened in 37 cases across Canada. SAFS was not only involved with the Azar case, but in February 2021, confronted Mount Allison when they tried to hire professors based on ethnicity versus actual academic achievement.
Mount Allison is one of many universities in Canada that are censoring free speech. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms publishes a Campus Freedom Index wherein they score the universities in Canada based on their performance on upholding free speech. In their 2020 report, only four universities in all of Canada had a "clear and unequivocal commitment to free speech on campus:" McMaster University, St. Thomas University, University of Lethbridge, and University of Windsor. The four worst universities, those who won't even make relevant policies available to the public, were: Brock University, University of Manitoba, University of Regina and University of Winnipeg.
Azar, writing on her personal blog, Bambi's Afkar, reflects on what perhaps many are thinking:
We live in sad times where we can no longer say what we think and we are called negatively-charged names for expressing opinions on this or about that issue. Wouldn’t it have been more enriching to go for a coffee or a beer and chat to learn from each other? Aren’t universities supposed to be the places meant to exchange and debate ideas?