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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    “It was rescinded after a further review,” Starr said.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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    Health

    Ontario court upholds stay of legal proceedings against 3 tobacco companies

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  • TORONTO — An Ontario court has upheld an order that suspended legal proceedings against three major tobacco companies, rejecting arguments from lawyers representing Quebec smokers.

    Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas McEwen issued his decision Wednesday but did not lay out his reasons, saying those would be released at a later date.

    The companies — JTI-Macdonald Corp., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. — were granted the stay last month as part of the creditor protection process.

    They obtained the protection shortly after Quebec’s highest court upheld a landmark decision that ordered them to pay more than $15 billion to smokers in two class-action lawsuits.

    The companies have said they had no choice but to seek the stay so they could continue to operate as they try to negotiate a global settlement with all those who have claims against them, including the class-action members and several provincial governments.

    But lawyers representing the class members argued the stay in their case should be revoked if the tobacco companies plan to appeal the Quebec ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    At a hearing earlier this month, they said the companies cannot negotiate a settlement in good faith while also challenging the findings of the court.

    The lawyers said if the companies plan to seek leave to appeal, the matter should be sent back to the Quebec court so it halt the implementation of its ruling until the appeal process is complete.

    In his decision, McEwen said the stay order would require parties to seek the court’s permission before launching new proceedings involving the companies, including any applications for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

    The judge had previously extended the order to June 28, with a hearing to be held a few days earlier.

    The Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, which was behind the class-action suits, said it would hold off commenting on the ruling until the judge’s reasons were released. 

    Lawyers representing several provincial governments had opposed the Quebec lawyers’ application, saying one group of claimants should not be prioritized over others.

    Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Supreme Court of Canada sides with police in internet child luring case

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  • OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says undercover police officers do not need to obtain a judicial warrant before using email or instant-message services to communicate with someone suspected of child luring.

    The ruling today comes in the case of Sean Patrick Mills, a Newfoundland man who was convicted of internet luring after a police officer posed online as a 14-year-old girl named “Leann.”

    The constable created an email account and Facebook page for the girl in 2012 to see if people online were preying on underage children.

    The officer received a Facebook message from Mills, who was 32, leading to an exchange of emails that turned sexual.

    Police used a screen-shot program to capture and record copies of the communications, but they did not have a court-approved warrant.

    Mills was arrested in a St. John’s park where he had arranged to meet the girl.

    The Canadian Press


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