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

Team BC defeats its hosts at junior curling nationals Sunday

Tyler Tardi and his team have played and won three games in the Canadian championships, so far.

UPDATE: Olympic softball qualifier to be held in Surrey

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

Surrey resident to speak about erasing Alzheimer’s disease stigma

A goal of Dona McMorland is to erase stigma attached to the disease

Vehicle rollover in Surrey

Surrey Fire Service responded to the collision on the 19500-block of 60 Avenue

VIDEO: Three-peat for Semiahmoo at basketball’s Surrey RCMP Classic

South Surrey-based squad tops Lord Tweedsmuir in final at Enver Creek gym

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

Most Read