Credits: QMI AGENCY FILES
Calgary businessman Clay Riddell made a mistake: He thought he could donate $15 million toCarleton University in Ottawa. Should be easy. But it wasn't.
Riddell made the donation at the request of Preston Manning, another Calgarian. The idea was to set up a non-partisan school to train political campaign managers. Ottawa seemed the place to do it.
It's called the Graduate Program in Political Management, or GPPM. Anyone can apply - not just conservatives like Manning and Riddell. In fact, paragraph 14(b) of the donation contract Riddell signed when he gave Carleton the money established an oversight committee that guaranteed the program "exposes students to the partisan nature of the political environment from a cross-partisan perspective."
The school was the vision of Manning and his non-partisan Manning Centre for Building Democracy. It's a noble thing, building democracy. And teaching would-be campaign managers skills and ethics is a good thing. But the donation still offended the hard left-wing union called the Canadian Association of University Teachers. They're so extremist they actually sent $20,000 of their union members' money to Quebec to help fund the student protests out there. There is virtually no left-wing cause that CAUT doesn't support - from the Gaza Strip to the general strike in Spain against cutbacks there. But they don't believe others should be allowed to be political, if they're conservative. And so they have demanded that Carleton reject Riddell's donation.
And, being typically spineless bureaucrats, Carleton seems to be complying with CAUT's busy-body demands. They're renegotiating their contract with Riddell.
It's bizarre stacked on top of bizarre. CAUT is outrageously partisan - denouncing politicians they don't like by name, funding political groups. So it's clear they're not against politics on campus - they're just against politics they don't agree with.
But the deeper weirdness here is that the Riddell gift is contractually bound to be non-partisan. And students who study there say they can't detect a bias - in fact, if anything, it's non-conservative.
Here's my advice to Riddell: Take your money and run.
You cannot reform Carleton, or any other Canadian university. There's a reason it's called university and not "diversity." Because they don't allow different points of view anymore.
Do you really think all of the politicized university departments that have sprung up over the past 25 years - women's studies, peace studies, environmental studies, vegetarian studies - are genuine places of open-minded inquiry and debate? Of course not - they are permanent, tax-paid political campaigns. They train political operatives just like Riddell wants to do. But these faculties teach a left-wing dogma, and brook no dissent.
And they're vicious in their peer pressure. Try getting tenure if you're a scholar who disputes the theory of man-made global warming. But unlike most of the Media Party, they're all unionized government bureaucrats, too. Which is why Canada's public sector professors are the highest paid in the world, according to a new study by Boston College.
Left wing, job-for-life, unionized, leftist, political pundits, working eight months a year. That's most of liberal arts these days. Riddell should take his money and split it up amongst 30 different Canadian conservative groups - the Fraser Institute, the Frontier Centre, the Canadian Constitution Foundation, even my favourite, EthicalOil.org. It wouldn't be vetoed by leftist unions, frittered away on six-figure professor salaries or sucked up by massive overhead.
And, in the end, it would probably achieve more for the Canadian greater good than anything a dinosaur university ever could.