Alberta university criticized for honouring David Suzuki

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A BC Hydro outage is affecting nearly 4000 customers in Kitimat. The cause of the outage is under investigation. (Screenshot/BC Hydro Outage Map)
Cable fault responsible for Kitimat power outage, BC Hydro says

At its peak, the BC Hydro power outage affected near 4,000 customers

Graph showing the 2020 passenger totals at the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace. (Submitted/Northwest Regional Airport)
New year brings an end to a turbulent 2020 at Northwest Regional Airport

Passenger totals half of what they were in 2019

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

The leisure pool at the Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be open Thursday and closed Friday for maintenance, the DoK said in an updated Facebook post Thursday (Jan. 14). (Kitimat Leisure Services photo)
UPDATE: Leisure pool at Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre open Thursday, closed Friday

The leisure pool will be closed Friday (Jan. 15) for maintenance due to a mechanical issue

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Harvest Meats is recalling a brand of Polish sausages, shown in a handout photo, due to undercooking that may make them unsafe to eat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the recall affects customers in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Food Inspection Agency Mandatory Credit
Harvest Meats recalls sausages over undercooking

Customers are advised to throw away or return the product

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education β€œa powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Most Read