Lethbridge Dean of Arts Christopher Nicol: Government of Alberta “Us[ing] Coercive Power for Political Purposes”

Christopher Nicol, Dean of Arts at the University of Lethbridge, published a guest column in Saturday’s Lethbridge Herald in which he questions the legality of the Letters of Expectation issued by Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education, and notes the following:

  • Universities are “places where new knowledge is created and disseminated” for the public interest They are “accountable to society in general, not governments of the day.”
  • Governments must not use universities “for narrower purposes.”
  • The Letters of Expectation issued by Lukaszuk are a “strange development” in Alberta history that show the Government of Alberta is “prepared to use coercive power” against Alberta’s four Comprehensive Academic and Research Institutions — the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge, and Athabasca University — “for its own political purposes.”
  • The Letters have not been produced according to a process that permits any proper “meeting of the minds” between the Government and the governing authorities of the respective universities, their Boards of Governors or their General Faculties Councils. As such, the four universities “are not in fact bound” to sign the Letters. 

Finally, Nicol argues that the “coercive” approach that the Government has taken in relation to the Letters — Lukaszuk has declared that their dictates are “non-negotiable” — renders the Letters, “even if they are signed, invalid.”

Here is a pdf of the full column:

Nicol in Lethbridge Herald April 6 2013

Thank you to Professor Laurie Adkin, Political Science, for circulating this item.

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