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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 1997

Favouring our own citizens is only logical

William Greenberg of Puerto Rico (September Bulletin) notes that Canadian universities give preference to Canadians over non-Canadians in academic hiring, a point about which Professor Irvine is silent in his much-discussed article. So he speculates that it is not affirmative action which Irvine is against, but only affirmative action for women.

As Bertrand Russell once said, people should take a course in logic to learn how not to draw inferences, since drawing false inferences is a much bigger problem than not drawing correct ones. To answer Mr. Greenberg's sophomoric attack:

  1. Silence about an injustice does not imply favouring its perpetuation. If it did, we would all be guilty of many sins.

  2. Favouring our own may not be the most enlightened practice, but if other countries favour their own citizens in academic hirings, then Canada doing so as well might be the best acceptable alternative.

  3. Who pays the piper calls the tune. Since Canadian taxpayers pay for academics teaching in Canada, they have the right to favour themselves.

  4. Canada discriminates against Puerto Ricans in much more important ways than the one complained about by Mr. Greenberg: education, health care, welfare, and pensions are only paid to Canadians, too. Are these injustices, too? And if so, should Mr. Greenberg's silence about them imply his favouring their perpetuation?

Grant Brown
Management, University of Lethbridge