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Cambridge University rescinds offer of fellowship for Jordan Peterson

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A controversial Toronto psychology professor is lambasting a prestigious British university after it opted to rescind a visiting fellowship on the basis of his work.

Jordan Peterson published a blog post in the wake of the move from Cambridge University, criticizing the school for its decision to withdraw the opportunity for a two-month scholarly visit to the elite campus.

Peterson, an outspoken critic of political correctness and many campus movements broadly affiliated with the political left, accused the school of bowing to pressure from students and failing to notify him directly of the decision to retract the fellowship.

Cambridge spokeswoman Tamsin Starr denied both allegations laid out in the blog post, saying Cambridge emailed the professor prior to sending out a tweet announcing the withdrawal of the offer and asserting the decision was made as a result of an academic review rather than student backlash.

“It was rescinded after a further review,” Starr said. She did not respond to a detailed list of questions, including whether such reviews are standard procedure and what specific findings triggered the withdrawal.

Peterson’s blog post let loose scathing words for the school’s Faculty of Divinity, which arranged for the fellowship and where the University of Toronto professor said he hoped to gain further material for a planned set of lectures on stories from the Bible.

“I think the Faculty of Divinity made a serious error of judgment in rescinding their offer to me,” he wrote in his post. “I think they handled publicizing the rescindment in a manner that could hardly have been more narcissistic, self-congratulatory and devious…I wish them the continued decline in relevance over the next few decades that they deeply and profoundly and diligently work toward and deserve.”

Peterson said the idea for a visiting fellowship came about after he lectured at the school and met with divinity faculty members last year.

In a brief tweet announcing the retraction, Cambridge indicated that Peterson requested the fellowship that was due to get underway in October. Peterson’s post referred to this assertion as a “half-truth,” saying it had been discussed with faculty members before he submitted his formal request.

Word that Peterson’s offer had been rescinded was greeted with relief by the Cambridge University students’ union, who began tweeting about his invitation in the days before it was withdrawn.

“His work and views are not representative of the student body and as such we do not see his visit as a valuable contribution to the university, but one that works in opposition to the principles of the university,” the union said in a Facebook post, later clarifying that they take exception to what they describe as his “history of actively espousing discriminatory views towards minority groups” rather than his positions on “academic freedom.”

Peterson has been a vocal critic of, among other things, the use of gender-neutral pronouns among those identifying as transgender. His notorious refusal to use them helped catapult him to global fame.

Peterson’s blog post took shots at the union’s response, finding fault with its literary style as well as its substance. He said the response received during his 2018 visit to the campus suggested there were people at the university interested in his perspectives.

“It seems to me that the packed Cambridge Union auditorium, the intelligent questioning associated with the lecture, and the overwhelming number of views the subsequently posted video accrued, indicates that there (sic) a number of Cambridge students are very interested in what I have to say, and might well regard my visit “as a valuable contribution to the university,” he said.

 

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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Tax credits, penalizing big polluters, key to Conservative climate plan

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OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer wants to give corporate tax breaks to companies that develop and patent green technology in Canada and introduce another federal tax credit for residential energy-efficiency projects.

Scheer is unveiling his long-awaited climate plan later today in a speech in Gatineau, Que.

It is the last of five big policy pronouncements he is making this spring in the lead-up to the fall election campaign.

A party official says the Conservatives intend to scrap the federal carbon tax but keep a price on pollution for heavy industrial emitters.

However their plan won’t tax emissions from major polluters, but will require them to invest in clean technology as a penalty for exceeding emissions limits.

Scheer intends to use his plan to reduce emissions in line with Canada’s targets under the Paris Agreement on climate change, but the Conservatives have been hinting that their plan will include taking credit when Canadian products reduce emissions overseas.

The Canadian Press

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Acts of kindness emerge at chaotic Raptors rally derailed by shooting

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TORONTO — When gunshots sparked panic and chaos at a massive outdoor celebration for Toronto’s NBA champions this week, some fans caught in the stampede worked to keep others out of danger, at times putting their own safety at risk.

As authorities now look to learn lessons from the event marred by overcrowding and violence on Monday, accounts of acts of kindness by complete strangers have emerged.

The shooting — which took place shortly after the Raptors went on stage during a victory rally at Nathan Phillips Square — injured four people, police said. Three people were arrested and two firearms were recovered, with investigators still looking for another suspect and firearm.

As hordes of fans scattered in fear, Mo Hussein said a group of young adults he had just met helped shield his three-year-old daughter from the crowd.

Hussein had gone to the rally with family members, including his niece and nephew, and ran into some of his niece’s friends, who he did not previously know. His daughter had just fallen asleep in her stroller when shots set off a wave of panic in the packed square, he said.

“All of a sudden the crowd started running towards us,” he said. “Fortunately I didn’t panic, my first thoughts were to protect my daughter who was asleep in the stroller. I just told people around me to come help me protect the stroller.”

Hussein said his niece’s friends formed a semi-circle around the stroller, protecting his daughter, who remained blissfully unaware of the commotion around her. When the crowd dispersed, “there were strollers around, there were shoes strewn all over the place, peoples’ hats and personal possessions all over the place,” he said.

That selfless act from the group prevented what could have been a terrible outcome, said Hussein, noting many children were put at risk at a purportedly family-friendly event.

“It basically means that even at the most evil point, humanity prevails,” he said. “(My niece’s friends) were afraid themselves and they were shivering after the fact, a lot of them had tears in their eyes and the fact that they were brave enough to actually help protect my daughter is something I really appreciate.”

Some who received a helping hand also witnessed other acts of kindness.

Kimi Marfa, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, said they were separated from friends moments after the shooting, which occurred steps away from their group.

“It was so scary not knowing if my friends were hurt or if they were safe,” Marfa said.

The 16-year-old said they ran into the nearby Old City Hall courthouse and saw children who had lost track of their parents. The kids were crying and looked scared, particularly when security announced the building was under lockdown, Marfa said.

Other parents who were still with their children stepped in to console those who were alone, Marfa said. “There were mothers acting as mothers to these others kids, hugging them and singing to them,” Marfa said.

Marfa was also helped through a panic attack by a woman in the courthouse, they said.

Suzanne Bernier said she ran into a nearby Canadian Tire where employees told distraught Raptors fans to come inside and stay calm. Store employees acted professionally and with compassion despite not being prepared to deal with dozens of terrified people seeking shelter, she said.

“It was so nice to see people stepping up to help each other,” she said. “It was just everyday citizens coming together to help each other out.”

Alanna Rizza and Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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june, 2019

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