Let’s hear some Moore of that story
Bu Bill Phillips
Maybe it’s time we heard from James Moore.
Other than a few comments way back when the UNBC board of governors named him chancellor of the university, the former federal cabinet minister has been pretty quiet about the controversial appointment. And, it seems like the controversy isn’t going to abate any time soon.
Just last week the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) joined the fray, calling for the university board of governors to reverse its decision.
They say that “after careful consideration of the University Act,” the board of governors didn’t consult enough with the UNBC senate before making the decision to appoint Moore. That may be, but the primary reason behind the furore of Moore’s appointment is still that he was a high-ranking cabinet minister during the years Stephen Harper was our prime minister and that government was known for muzzling scientists, among other shenanigans. Simply being a duly-elected cabinet minister in a duly-elected (OK, that one might not fly), isn’t a good enough reason to rescind the appointment, so the consultation charge is being pushed.
The two associations are also concerned that the university picked Moore because they wanted some “friendly” with the provincial Liberal government.
Whatever the reason, right or wrong, this controversy simply isn’t going to go away.
Last week, Board of Governor’s Chair Ryan Matheson was busy defending the decision.
“While we have heard the objections, we have also heard from leaders across all areas, including alumni, faculty, students, government, and business, who have applauded and support this appointment,” he said in an e-mail to the university community.
He also extolled some of Moore’s accomplishments while in office, including being “a driving force behind the creation of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.”
While it is the job of Matheson and the board of governors to defend their decision, it’s time the community heard from Moore. What does he think of all this controversy? How does he plan to tackle the job of chancellor? What does he think he can bring to the university? Why should the community at large support him in this role?
When this foofaraw began, the board of governors likely felt that they could weather the storm and the controversy would go away in time.
That doesn’t appear to be happening.
The problem the board now faces is that if this controversy hasn’t been dealt with, one way or another, by May, the convocation ceremonies will become a sideshow. Moore will be here to be officially installed as chancellor and if things aren’t resolved, those ceremonies will marred with this controversy. That doesn’t serve anyone, especially the students who will be graduating and for whom the ceremonies are actually for.
If Moore came up for a bit of a public relations tour prior to May, it might go a long ways towards convincing the community he’s worthy of the job.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at email@example.com