TORONTO, April 20 /CNW/ - The organizers of the Worldviews Conference on
Media and Higher Education are asking the Government of Canada to
permit Bill Ayers, a prominent American academic, intellectual and
critic, to enter Canada and speak in Toronto at their event. Prof.
Ayers was previously prevented from entering Canada in 2009. No
official reason was given for this refusal.
"Prof. Ayers is scheduled to deliver a talk on 'The responsibility of
academics to contribute to public debates in the media' on June 16th. The irony of course is that the Canadian government could well prevent
him from exercising that same responsibility," said Prof. Mark Langer,
President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty
Associations (OCUFA). "This is an issue of academic freedom, not one of
a potential 'threat' to Canadian security. In the interests of open
debate and the democratic exchange of ideas, Prof. Ayers must be
allowed to speak."
Ayers -- who was until his retirement last year Distinguished Professor
of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of
Illinois at Chicago - is a widely respected education reformer and a
sought after speaker on the relationship between education, politics,
and the media. He was also a founder of the Weather Underground, a
radical protest group active in the 1960s and 1970s. His past
involvement in the Weather Underground and later participation with
Barak Obama on the board of an anti-poverty organization became a
controversy during the 2008 Presidential election.
"Prof. Ayers has never been convicted of a felony, yet has apparently
been barred from entering Canada," said Langer. "Martha Stewart - who
did time in a federal prison - received special dispensation from the
Canadian Government to attend a 'pumpkin regatta' in Nova Scotia a few
years ago and last year was allowed to speak at the Canada Blooms show
in Toronto. I wonder about a government that will let an American felon
paddle around in a hollowed-out pumpkin, but refuses to allow a
respected academic to participate in our democratic discourse."
"Free speech isn't something you just give to someone who makes a nice
centerpiece," added Langer. "It's a right we all enjoy, and vital to
the marketplace of ideas so important to the health of our society."
If allowed to enter Canada, Prof. Ayers will join other accomplished
speakers from academia and the media at the conference, including Mark
Kingwell, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto; Ivan
Semeniuk, News Editor, Nature; Paul Lewis, President, Discovery Channel Canada; Tony Burman, Al Jazeera's Head of Strategy for the Americas; Phil Baty, Deputy Editor, Times Higher Education; and many more.
The Worldviews 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 Worldviews Conference
For further information:
Graeme Stewart at 416 306 6033 (office), 647 280 3175 (mobile), or firstname.lastname@example.org