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Graham should refuse honorary Doctorate: Duguay

May 12, 2009

Released today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12 MAY 2009
Saint John, New Brunswick

New Brunswick NDP Leader Roger Duguay is disappointed by the contents of a recent memo to University of New Brunswick Staff. This email reveals that UNB plans to confer an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Liberal Premier Shawn Graham at this year’s Encaenia ceremony.

Mr. Duguay believes this to be inappropriate and troubling, for several reasons. “I believe that this sends the wrong message,” says Duguay. “An independent educational institution giving such an honor to a sitting politician? It certainly raises many questions!”

While this honour has been conferred upon sitting politicians in the past, this particular action is surprising given the Graham government’s attempts to undermine the university system in New Brunswick. The highly controversial L’Ecuyer-Miner report, solicited by Mr. Graham in 2007, recommended that UNB’s Saint John campus be converted to a “Polytechnic,” and lose its status as a university degree-granting institution. The proposed reforms would also have affected the Université de Moncton campuses in Shippagan and Edmundston.

“Two years ago, reckless action by the Graham government forced students, faculty, and citizens to the streets of Saint John, Edmundston and Shippagan, fighting to save their universities.” Mr. Duguay states. “Luckily, we were successful in our efforts.” “This announcement is deeply troubling to those who fought against this short-sighted government to save something of great value to our communities.” Duguay continued.

The New Brunswick New Democratic Party is calling on Premier Shawn Graham to refuse this premature honor so long as he is still sitting as Premier. There will be time to evaluate his political legacy, especially in relation to post-secondary education, when his career comes to a close.

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