Posted on January 8, 2015

UNB Defends Prof’s Academic Freedom in Wake of Racism Complaint

CBC News, January 8, 2015

A University of New Brunswick vice-president is defending a professor’s academic freedom in the wake of a recent complaint of racism.

Kerry Jang, a Vancouver city councillor, had asked the university to investigate the allegedly racist views of Prof. Ricardo Duchesne, who argues that the influx of Asian immigrants is threatening Canada’s European character.

Jang contends the sociology professor’s comments constitute hate speech.

“He was drawing comparisons to say Hong Kong and Japan, its teeming dirty cities and things like that–saying all Asians are dirty,” he said.

Last summer, Jang complained to Robert MacKinnon, a UNB vice-president in Saint John, and said Duchesne was damaging the university’s reputation.

“He was pushing one perspective and using his university affiliation to get it across,” said Jang. “That is not proper academic work. Period,” he said.

“Quite frankly, I don’t think he should be teaching.”

But in an emailed statement to CBC News on Wednesday, MacKinnon said Jang’s concerns were “carefully reviewed and addressed last summer.”

“Academic freedom is a foundational principle of university life,” he said.

“The university statement of mission and values very clearly supports the freedom of thought and expression while maintaining the highest ethical standards and a respectful environment.”

​Duchesne, a professor in the department of social science at UNB Saint John, said he challenges students to rethink the values of multiculturalism.

“Why are people so afraid that they don’t want people like me to talk?” he said.

The professor has some specific thoughts on how immigration has impacted Vancouver.

“The incoming in Vancouver of Asians and Chinese was too fast, too quick. So essentially, we had a situation in which within a matter of a few years, a very British city, a beautiful British city, took on a strongly Asian character,” he said.

“You walk to schools, to universities, high schools and in many cases, you will see are almost only Chinese or Asian students.”

Duchesne’s published academic work exalts Western culture, which, he says, is threatened by overwhelming numbers of immigrants.

He said immigrants don’t respect white liberals, who don’t take pride in their own nation and hand over everything.

“Sweden had practically no rape. Suddenly, they open their borders, they have one of the highest rape statistics in the world,” he said.

“In Norway, it’s happening, the same thing.”

Duchesne’s comments may have triggered a complaint, but the union that represents UNB professors says he needs to be defended.

Miriam Jones, president of the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers, said the principle of academic freedom is “increasingly under attack.”

Jones said academic freedom is under pressure from corporations, political interests and even big pharmaceuticals who don’t like what scientists are telling them.

The union leader said professors and what they say must be protected.

“It is such a bedrock principle. Academic freedom is something to go to the wall for,” she said.