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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    “It was rescinded after a further review,” Starr said.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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    Eastern Canada braces for more flooding as forecast calls for rain

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  • MONTREAL — Communities across much of Eastern Canada are bracing for more flooding today, with rain in the forecast from central Ontario to northern New Brunswick.

    Officials in Quebec are keeping a close eye on a hydroelectric dam west that’s at risk of failing, while Ottawa’s mayor has declared an emergency and part of the Trans-Canada Highway has been closed in New Brunswick.

    The Chute-Bell dam west of Montreal has reached “millennial” water levels, meaning a flood that happens once every 1,000 years, but Hydro-Quebec says it’s confident the structure is solid.

    Simon Racicot, the utility’s director of production and maintenance, told reporters yesterday that “we are entering into an unknown zone right now — completely unknown.”

    Meantime, Ottawa has joined several smaller Ontario communities in declaring a state of emergency, with Mayor Jim Watson requesting help from the Canadian Forces.

    Farther east, New Brunswick’s Department of Transportation said the Trans-Canada Highway was fully closed from Oromocto to River Glade, and could remain closed for several days.

    And there’s not much relief in sight, with Environment Canada predicting rain for a large swath of Eastern Canada, from Georgian Bay to the Gaspe Peninsula.

    The Canadian Press


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    Don’t make election about immigration, corporate Canada tells political leaders

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  • OTTAWA — Big business leaders worried about Canada’s aging demographics have been urging political parties to avoid inflaming the immigration debate ahead of this fall’s federal election.

    The head of the lobby group representing chief executives of Canada’s largest corporations said he’s already raised the issue with political leaders who are shifting into campaign mode for the October vote.

    With signs of public concern about immigration, Business Council of Canada president and CEO Goldy Hyder said he’s promoted the economic case in favour of opening the country’s doors to more people.

    “We are 10 years away from a true demographic pressure point,” Hyder said during a meeting with reporters Thursday in Ottawa. “What I’ve said to the leaders of the political parties on this issue is, ‘Please, please do all you can to resist making this election about immigration.’ That’s as bluntly as I can say it to them.”

    The message from corporate Canada comes at a time when public and political debate has focused on immigration, refugees and border security, to the point it could emerge as a key election issue, tempting parties fighting hard for votes.

    A poll released this month by Ekos Research Associates suggested that the share of people who think there are too many visible minorities in Canada is up “significantly,” even though overall opposition to immigration has been largely unchanged in recent years and remains lower than it was in the 1990s.

    Canada has been ratcheting up its immigration numbers and it plans to welcome more. The Immigration Department set targets of bringing in nearly 331,000 newcomers this year, 341,000 in 2020 and 350,000 in 2021, according to its 2018 report to Parliament.

    As the baby-boomer generation ages, experts say Canada — like other western countries — will need a steady influx of workers to fill jobs and to fund social programs, like public health care, through taxes.

    Thanks to the stronger economy, Canadian companies have already been dealing with labour shortages. Healthy employment growth has tightened job markets, making it more difficult for firms to find workers.

    “Every job that sits empty is a person not paying taxes … We have job shortages across the country and they’re just not at the high end,” said Hyder, who added his members are well aware that immigration has become a tricky political issue.

    “We’re worried about that in the sense that the public can very easily go to a xenophobic place.”

    Hyder also brought up Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s election promise last year to cut annual immigration levels in his province by 20 per cent. Legault won the election after making the vow, even though Quebec faces significant demographic challenges.

    Earlier this week, the Bank of Canada noted the economic importance of immigration in its monetary policy report. Carolyn Wilkins, the central bank’s senior deputy governor, said without immigration, Canada’s labour force would cease adding workers within five years.

    “The fact we’ve got people that are buying things, that are using services, that are going to stores, that need houses — well, that creates a little bit of a boost to the economy,” Wilkins told a news conference in Ottawa when asked about the subject. “Certainly, immigration is a big part of the story in terms of potential growth, which will feed itself into actual growth.”

    Hyder said he’s personally part of a group called the Century Initiative, which would like to see Canada, a country of about 37 million, grow to 100 million people by 2100.

    The group was co-founded by Hyder and several others, including two members of the Trudeau government’s influential economic advisory council — Dominic Barton, global managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Co., and Mark Wiseman, a senior managing director for investment management giant BlackRock Inc. Hyder was a business consultant before joining the business council and was once a top aide to federal Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark.

    The Century Initiative wants Canada to responsibly expand its population as a way to help drive its economic potential.

    “Demographics are not going to be relying on just making babies, we’re going to need immigration,” Hyder said. “We have to be able to communicate that from an economic perspective, but cognizant of the social concerns that people have.”

    —Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

    Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


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