By Peter Mills
June 10, 2011
REGINA — The controversial decision to censor Profs in the Park was, several sources say, fuelled by complaints brought forward by one or more city administrators.
Profs in the Park was a lecture series organized by the University of Regina’s Faculty of Arts and the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID).
“It is our understanding that RDBID was asked by one or more representatives of the City of Regina to cancel Dr. Emily Eaton’s June 14 talk,” said Richard Kleer in an open letter to Judith Veresuk, executive director of RDBID.
Eaton’s lecture was titled, Solidarity with Palestine: The Case for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel.
Neil McDonald resigned as recreation coordinator with the RDBID after Veresuk told him to contact Eaton and the university and “cancel it outright.”
He said Michael Fougere, Ward 4 city councillor, was the ‘catalyst’ that brought forward the complaint and that Fougere was acting on behalf of a citizen who had made a complaint. Fougere could not be reached for comment.
Samantha Routley, RDBID spokesperson, confirmed that more than one member of city administration made a complaint.
“We just want it to be clear that we don’t oppose public discourse but we want to uphold our responsibility to the concerns voiced to us,” she said. “We don’t support the cancellation of the program because of any misunderstanding. We had hoped to come to an agreement but we do respect the Faculty of Arts position.”
Fougere could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Eaton said she shouldn’t have to defend her lecture topic.
“If the city wants to engage in a public lecture series they shouldn’t at the same time be censoring the content of it,” she said. “The city level government is basically saying, ‘We won’t talk about certain issues in our community.’ ”
The Faculty of Arts is actively seeking a new location for the talks and Eaton said the College Avenue campus was one option.