Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Conservatives threaten academic freedom, funding

OTTAWA – Academic freedom has been seriously compromised by Conservative Minister Gary Goodyear’s office threat to withhold funding for an academic conference because the minister objected to the topic of the conference, says New Democrat Post-Secondary Education critic Niki Ashton (Churchill).

“A minister can’t just pull the plug on funding to the social sciences because a conference goes against his ideological agenda,” said Ashton. “It’s undemocratic and quite frankly, unbelievable that Minister Goodyear would even try such a stunt.”

In a press release from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), it was revealed that Minister Gary Goodyear’s office threatened to withhold federal budget funding for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) because of its decision to fund an academic conference called “Israel/Palestine: Mapping models of statehood and prospects for peace.” The CAUT is calling for Minister Goodyear’s resignation.

“Universities are places of open dialogue on key issues such as peace and conflict – how can a minister justify shutting that down because it doesn’t jive with his personal beliefs? We’ve seen this government pull dirty tricks before – from the ideological targeting of research funds, to infiltrating campus clubs to ignoring the growing student debt crisis,” said Ashton. “Canadian students, researchers and academics want support, not threats and blackmail.”