U of A must dismiss Holodomor denier

Marco Levytsky, NP-UN Editorial Writer.

The University of Alberta is shamelessly neglecting its responsibility to confront the hatemongering expressed by one of its lecturers, by hiding behind the cloak of freedom of opinion.

In response to a call by the Ukrainian Students Union of Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, many other Ukrainian community organizations as well as members of the community at large, to censure and fire Assistant Lecturer Dougal MacDonald for publicly denying the very existence of the 1932-33 famine, which many countries, including Canada, have recognized as a genocide, the U of A issued a statement saying MacDonald’s views don’t represent those of the university — but he has a right to share them.

“As a private citizen, Mr. MacDonald has the right to express his opinion, and others have the right to critique or debate that opinion,” said Deputy Provost Wendy Rodgers. “It is our understanding that he has not expressed these views in the context of his employment relationship with the university.”

She said the university is “carefully monitoring” the situation but made it clear no action would be taken.

First and foremost, most contemporary Holodomor deniers have begrudgingly accepted the irrefutable fact that millions were starved to death by Soviet authorities in the 1930s, instead opting to diminish the true scope of this crime against humanity by trying to dispute the numbers, or the fact it was an actual genocide. But MacDonald refuses to accept the irrefutable fact that the famine even existed.

When he refers to the Holodomor as a “myth” created by “Hitlerite Nazis”, part of an “even larger myth that millions died in the Soviet Union”, adding that “in Canada, former Nazi collaborators and their spawn have long led the phony Holodomor campaign” he goes far beyond what can be credibly construed as an expression of opinion, in that he denies an indisputable fact and instigates hatred against all Ukrainian Canadians who fled Soviet oppression after World War II – and their descendants as well.

The claim that “he has not expressed these views in the context of his employment relationship with the university,” is another red herring. As was made very clear to University of Alberta President David H. Turpin, in letters emailed to him by Taras Podilsky, President of the League of Ukrainian Canadians, Edmonton Branch and Andrii Lytvynets, President of the Ukrainian National Federation, Edmonton Branch, the University of Alberta has an Ethical Conduct Policy, which states as follows:

  1. STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT- All representatives of the University of Alberta shall maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct, in which their actions and behaviours uphold the principles of integrity, respect and accountability, supported by awareness of and compliance with relevant University policies and procedures, collective agreements, government legislation and relevant professional standards”
  2. FAILURE TO COMPLY- Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment and prosecution if appropriate.

There is no question as to what the University of Alberta’s proper course of action should be. It must do the right thing and both censure Dougal MacDonald and terminate his employment.