CAUT releases open letter protesting Canada's refusal to allow Dr. William Ayers entry into Canada



    OTTAWA, Jan. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Association of University
Teachers (CAUT) has written an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
protesting the refusal by Canada to allow Dr. William Ayers, Distinguished
Professor of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, entry into
Canada.
    Professor Ayers had been invited by the Centre for Urban Schooling at the
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto to
give a public lecture at the University. He was also scheduled to meet with
Toronto District School Board principals and senior staff, with youth
community workers at a school in Regent Park, and to be interviewed on CBC. He
was refused entry to Canada on Sunday, January 18.
    "It is wrong for the Government of Canada to decide which scholars
universities can invite to their campuses," the letter says. "Too often, in
recent years, this has been practice of the Bush Administration in the United
States - a practice we and our American counterpart - the American Association
of University Professors - have denounced... It is with shame that we now find
our government is behaving in the same manner."
    CAUT is calling for a public investigation into Professor Ayers' denial
of entry into Canada, and wants the Prime Minister to advise the University of
Toronto that should it invite Professor Ayers again, the government will allow
him to enter Canada.
    CAUT's letter to Prime Minister Harper is below.


    
    January 20, 2009

    The Rt. Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    Office of the Prime Minister
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa ON K1A 0A2


    Dear Prime Minister:

    We are writing to object in the strongest terms to the refusal of the
    Government of Canada to allow Dr. William Ayers, Distinguished Professor
    of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago, entry into Canada.
    Professor Ayers had been invited by the Centre for Urban Schooling at the
    Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto
    to give a public lecture at the University. He was also scheduled to meet
    with Toronto District School Board principals and senior staff, with
    youth community workers at a school in Regent Park, and to be interviewed
    on CBC.

    The actions of your border officials in denying entry to this eminent
    academic brings disrepute to Canada and shows that your government has
    little regard for academic freedom.

    Professor Ayers is a controversial figure whom Sarah Palin demeaned in
    the American presidential election as part of her efforts to attack
    Barack Obama. While a student radical in the United States in the 1960's
    who challenged the American government and was arrested on various
    occasions, Professor Ayers was never convicted of a felony or any
    equivalent charge that could be used to justify his exclusion from
    Canada. He did, however, go on to achieve international acclaim as an
    expert in educational reform. His work has been recognized with the title
    "Distinguished Professor" at his own university, with honorary
    doctorates, and with invitations to be a visiting scholar at various
    American universities, including Vassar and the University of South
    Carolina.

    It is wrong for the Government of Canada to decide which scholars
    universities can invite to their campuses. Too often, in recent years,
    this has been practice of the Bush Administration in the United States -
    a practice we and our American counterpart - the American Association of
    University Professors - have denounced. It is with shame that we now find
    our government is behaving in the same manner.

    We call on you as Prime Minister to ask your Minister of Public Safety to
    launch an immediate public investigation into Professor Ayers' denial of
    entry into Canada on January 18, 2009. We also call on you to advise the
    University of Toronto that should it invite Professor Ayers again, your
    government will allow him to enter Canada for that purpose.

    Universities serve the common good of society by fostering open
    discussion and robust debate. In the words of the University of Toronto's
    "Statement of Purpose", within the unique university context,

      "the most crucial of all human rights are the freedom of speech,
      academic freedom and freedom of research. And we affirm that these
      rights are meaningless unless they entail the right to raise deeply
      disturbing questions and provocative challenges to the cherished
      beliefs of society at large and the university itself... for there is
      no one else, no other institution and no other office, in our modern
      liberal democracy, which is the custodian of this most precious and
      vulnerable right of the liberated human spirit."

    As Prime Minister of our country, you have an obligation to ensure that
    the federal government fosters academic freedom, not restricts it. We
    look forward to your prompt reply to our requests.


    Sincerely,

    (signed)                         (signed)
    Penni Stewart                    James L. Turk
    President                        Executive Director

    /mmp

    cc:  The Hon. Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety
         The Hon. Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Opposition
         Mr. Jack Layton, Leader of the NDP
         M. Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Québécois
         Dr. David Naylor, President, University of Toronto
         Mr. Jeff Kugler, Executive Director, Centre for Urban Schooling,
         OISE/UofT
         Prof. Cary Nelson, President, American Association of University
         Professors
         Prof. William Ayers
    




For further information:

For further information: James Turk, CAUT Executive Director, (613)
820-2270, ext. 176, mobile (613) 277-0488

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