Alberta university criticized for honouring David Suzuki

University of Alberta plans to bestow environmentalist with honourary degree

The University of Alberta is being criticized for its decision to give David Suzuki an honorary degree.

Earlier this month, the university announced that the longtime environmentalist will be one of 13 people to receive the honour later this spring.

Andrew Leach, the architect of Alberta’s climate change plan and an economics professor at the university, isn’t pleased.

“He refers to economics as brain damage,” Leach wrote on Twitter. “The @ualberta has 3 departments teaching economics. Is that really the type of public education that my university wants to reward with an honorary degree?”

Some in the oil and gas industry and others from the Opposition United Conservative Party were also critical of the decision on social media.

Suzuki wasn’t available to comment Thursday, but his foundation sent out a statement.

“As Canada seeks to meet its Paris climate accord target and transition to a sustainable renewable energy future, the expansion of Canada’s oilsands has become an extremely divisive subject — as we’re seeing with the Kinder Morgan pipeline project,” said chief executive Steve Cornish.

READ MORE: David Suzuki attends ‘Save Hawthorne Park’ rally

READ MORE: Suzuki, B.C. chefs call for end to open-net fish farms as province reviews renewals

An honorary degree is not a blind endorsement of Suzuki’s perspectives, he said.

“It’s a tribute to Dr. Suzuki’s incredible career as an awarded geneticist, broadcaster and author,” said Cornish.

The university defended its decision to honour Suzuki.

“We understand how important the oil and gas industry is to Alberta,” the school said in a statement. “We, too, are acutely aware of the anger and frustration with the current situation surrounding the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”

The university said an honorary degree doesn’t necessarily mean the institution agrees with the person, but rather recognizes his or her contributions and full body of work.

Suzuki is to receive being given the honorary doctor of science degree on June 7.

Leach, who declined an interview request, said on Twitter that he was glad his economics students would be convocating on another day.

“It saves me from a horrible decision I’d have to make: there’s no way I’d share a stage with David Suzuki as he receives an honorary degree from @ualberta,” he wrote. ”Not a chance.”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

B.C. teacher charged with sexual offences involving two teens

Henry Kang, 50, of Abbotsford charged with two counts each sex assault and sexual exploitation

Toronto Raptors star to hold basketball camp in B.C.

DeMar DeRozan is hosting a four-day camp for players aged 6-16 at the University of Victoria

Military college students accused of violating Qur’an with bacon

Alleged acts by four cadets from the Royal Military College in Quebec caught on video

Canucks sign top prospect Elias Pettersson to entry-level deal

Slick centre drafted No. 5 overall in 2017 NHL draft

Most Read