TORONTO, June 15, 2011 /CNW/ - Prominent American academic Bill Ayers
will again be prevented from entering Canada, an outcome that should
raise red flags for citizens concerned with free and open debate. Ayers
was scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the upcoming Worldview
Conference on Media and Higher Education in Toronto on June 16, 2011.
"Ontario's university professors and academic librarians are appalled
that Canada's borders are becoming a barrier to the free exchange of
ideas," said Mark Langer, President of the Ontario Confederation of
University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). "Bill Ayers is a respected
academic, and in no way a threat to the peace and security of Canada.
There is no reason why he should be kept out."
Ayers was, until his retirement last year, Distinguished Professor of
Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois
at Chicago and is widely noted for his work to reform elementary
education. He gained notoriety in the 1960s and 1970s as one of the
founding members of the Weather Underground, a radical militant protest
group. In 2009, Ayers was detained by the Canada Border Services
Agency and barred from entering Canada. No reason was given for this
exclusion. Lawyers working on Ayers' behalf have since tried to secure
passage across the border, but have been 'stonewalled' by Canadian
officials. As a result, Ayers has been advised to not attempt another
entry into Canada, since the same outcome - detention and expulsion -
is almost guaranteed.
"I am disturbed by the apparent inconsistency in the enforcement of
Canada's border," said Langer. "In the past, we have admitted Martha
Stewart, a convicted felon. Just a few weeks ago, we also let in Geert
Wilders, a far-right Dutch politician currently being prosecuted for
violations of his country's hate speech laws. Based on this record, one
wonders if Ayers is being kept out of Canada for purely political
reasons, something that is unacceptable in a free and democratic
Worldviews organizers have arranged that participants will still be able
to hear Ayers speak, if not in person. The conference is an
international initiative to explore the important relationship between
higher education and the media. It will be held June 16-18, 2011 in
Toronto. OCUFA is organizing the conference with the Ontario Institute
for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT),
Academic Matters, Inside Higher Ed, and University World News. For more
information and a complete speaking list, please visit http://www.worldviewsconference.com.
SOURCE Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
For further information:
Graeme Stewart at 416 306 6033 (office), 647 280 3175 (mobile), or firstname.lastname@example.org