letter from Robert Whitney in today’s T-J. Here is the entire letter; the published version was trimmed a little:
Your editorial that condemned UNB Faculty and Staff for distancing themselves from the decision of the UNB Board of Governors to grant Premier Graham an Honorary Degree is misleading on two points.
First, it was not a “few brave professors” that prevented Mr. Graham’s government from accepting the recommendations of the L’Écuyer-Miner report that threatened three university campuses in New Brunswick. Had the protest come only from university faculty, staff, and students, I am certain their voices would not have been enough to prevent the government from implementing the L’Écuyer-Miner report. What forced Graham to back-down was the thousands of people throughout the entire province and from all walks of life who wrote letters, signed petitions, demonstrated in the streets, talked to their MLAs, and spoke in their churches about the need to save access to university education in our communities. By suggesting that it was just a “few brave professors” who resisted Graham’s attempt to impose the L’Écuyer-Miner report on the province, you are misleading your readers about the level of widespread public opposition to the proposed changes.
Second, it seems perfectly reasonable to question the “independence” of the L’Écuyer-Miner report. It was and remains public knowledge that the authors of the report have long advocated that universities should become polytechnics and that post-secondary educational institutions should be controlled by the private sector and by provincial governments. Mr. Miner in particular was on the Board of Polytechnics Canada, so to describe a report co-written by him as “independent” is rather disingenuous to say the least. It therefore seems logical to assume that Mr. Graham got the report he wanted to read and he assumed the only problem would be how his government would implement its recommendations. Thanks to the people of New Brunswick — not university professors — he failed. For the Board of Governors of UNB to grant an Honorary university degree to a Premier who commissioned a biased and rejected report that proposed restricting public access to university education, and that cost taxpayers $1.2 million, is disgraceful.