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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2009

Inquiry to Examine Israel-Palestine Conference

CAUT has announced a commis­sion of inquiry into events surrounding a controversial conference this summer on paths to peace in the Middle East.

Co-sponsored by Queen’s University and York University as part of York’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the conference drew the ire of pro-Israeli government groups and the federal Minister of Science and Technology intervened with the federal granting agency partner that awarded money for the event.

Jon Thompson, professor emeritus at the University of New Bruns­wick and one of Canada’s leading authorities on academic freedom, will conduct the inquiry. He will examine issues arising from the conference related to academic freedom, the role of federal granting councils, and the responsibilities of members of academic communities for protecting the discussion of controversial topics on university and college campuses.

Thompson’s terms of reference are to: examine whether the academic freedom of the event organizers and the integrity of educational work were threatened by the actions of the York administration, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and others; draw conclusions from the experiences of this conference about the vulnerability of academic freedom and the integrity of educational work; and, make recommendations on policies and procedures that will safeguard academic freedom and the integrity of educational work.

As part of the inquiry process, Thompson is inviting interested parties to make written submissions addressing the terms of reference. Comments should be sent to Jon Thompson, c/o CAUT, 2705 Queensview Drive, Ottawa, ON, K2B 8K2, or can be made by e-mail to, or faxed to 613-820-7244.

Thompson is expected to submit his findings by Nov. 30, and CAUT will publish his report.