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Canada's nuttiest professors

From the conspiracy kooks to the commies, the radicals to the revolutionaries, meet the profs that students (and their parents) will want to keep far away from this school year.

Terry O'Neill - September 25, 2006

TAIAIAKE ALFRED, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RESEARCH CHAIR AND PROFESSOR OF HUMAN AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA
A self-described "orator" who collects his paycheques from a Canadian university, the Montreal-born Alfred has said he doesn't consider himself Canadian and is opposed to co-operating with the "settler" government (the feds) in pursuing Indian grievances. His classes, he admits, are designed to create future aboriginal leaders through a process of "decolonization." He believes most Canadians are prejudiced against aboriginals. "When it comes to attitudes about Indigenous people," he has written, "this is a country with a pretty thin veneer of toleration hiding an ugly mass of racism."

LEO PANITCH, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, YORK UNIVERSITY
An unabashed Marxist, Panitch is, naturally enough, a longtime opponent of globalism and capitalism, which he claims is rife with "injustices and inequalities . . . exploitation and multiple oppressions." Even the NDP is too moderate for Panitch, who's been a constant critic of the left-wing party. In Panitch's socialist utopia, the traditional family is downplayed in favour of "new forms of household relations." He envisions "new kinds of public places that would allow for accessible and egalitarian modes of production and consumption." Barriers between managers and workers would disappear and private property would be eliminated, too, naturally. You get the picture.

KATHLEEN MAHONEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY
As an activist lawyer, academic and feminist, Mahoney has many strong opinions, among them that the rest of us are not entitled to our own. This staunch opponent of free speech once filed a human rights complaint against an Edmonton magazine for reporting (factually) that some natives weren't abused in residential schools. The co-founder of the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund has also fought to end research into whether courts treat abusive wives more lightly than abusive husbands. Her public position that the pursuit of equality requires the state to forcibly curtail speech that might be hurtful has earned her the enmity of Alan Borovoy, architect of Canada's human rights commissions.

THOMAS HOMER-DIXON, DIRECTOR OF THE TRUDEAU CENTRE FOR PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
Homer-Dixon made a name for himself in the aftermath of 9/11, arguing that, rather than Islamic zealotry, the real motive behind the attacks was social and economic disparity between the West and the rest of the world. But his more potent contribution to the academy might be his apocalyptic view that human civilization is on the verge of collapse. A global-warming alarmist, he has painted scenarios of societal breakdown, civil war and general chaos in the wake of abrupt climate change. He has spoken apocalyptically of humankind being on the cusp of planetary collapse, the only solution being to slow our economic growth and end globalization. "We face an ever-greater risk of synchronous failure of our social, economic and biophysical systems arising from simultaneous, interacting stresses acting powerfully at multiple levels of these global systems." Whatever that means, it sounds scary.

SOPHIE QUIGLEY, PROFESSOR OF COMPUTER SCIENCE, RYERSON UNIVERSITY
Quigley may be a computer instructor, but she apparently considers herself qualified to teach morality to the director of McGill's Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law. Quigley was the Ryerson professor who tried blocking her university from awarding an honorary degree to Margaret Somerville, because Somerville, an internationally renowned ethicist, had written that same-sex parents were not as beneficial for children as mom and dad. Quigley even brought a banner to the convocation ceremony to protest. What's same-sex marriage got to do with binary code? Beats us. But Quigley's never stuck entirely to her field. Her faculty website promotes the left-wing Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and she has signed an online petition opposing any military means to fight terrorists.

JOEL BAKAN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF B.C.
Students flock to UBC's law school rock star, the counterculture author of The Corporation. Published in 2004, it was the basis of an award-winning movie released the same year. Pummelled by experts for getting basic economic facts wrong (one particularly dangerous claim: gold traders were reportedly jubilant on the day of the 9/11 attacks, because they "doubled their money," yet gold only rose 10 per cent that day, and only briefly), Bakan nevertheless collected 24 international awards for his movie, which compared corporations to psychopathic individuals. Accepting an award at the Sundance film festival, Bakan sarcastically lectured Americans about Canadian superiority ("We come from Canada, right--we know how to fill out ballots in elections"). And he ranted against Coca-Cola, one of the event's sponsors. Funny, Bakan's aversion to corporations didn't stop him from giving the publishing rights for his book to a subsidiary of CBS, one of the biggest corporations in America. Psychopathic? You be the judge.

--with files from Andrea Mrozek

Know a nutty professor you'd like to see nominated?

E-MAIL US AT: nuttyprofs@westernstandard.ca

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