(1) 250.472.8528
andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

Today in the legislature I introduced a private member’s bill entitled Bill M202 University Amendment Act, 2016. The purpose of this bill is to halt the creeping government interference in university governance, an issue I have previously raised in the past.

In a recent article in the Georgia Strait entitled Arvind Gupta, Andrew Weaver, and the future of B.C.’s Universities, author Charlie Smith threw out a challenge. It was a challenge that I accepted.

The independence of a University Board is critical. The purpose of a university is to educate people who can critically assess information to allow them to participate in an informed manner in a democracy. It’s a place that allows for innovation and creativity to flourish. It’s not a place for government to impose a top down imposition of its ideology. Unfortunately, under existing legislation the government has the potential to interfere in ways that could undermine that autonomy.

The potential of political interference is unacceptable for our institutions of higher learning. My hope is that the government takes my suggestions for solving this issue seriously and takes action on this issue immediately to preserve the independence of our academic institutions.

Below I reproduce the text and video of the speech I gave as I introduced the bill. I also include the accompanying media release.


Text of my Speech


A. Weaver: It’s also with great pleasure that I move introduction of a bill intituled University Amendment Act, 2016.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: I’m sure members are aware of the two significant controversies that have plagued two of our universities recently: the controversy between the UBC board and the past president of UBC, Dr. Arvind Gupta, and the recent controversy concerning the decision to appoint James Moore as chancellor of UNBC.

In both these instances, the conflict arose because of the decisions the board made or in how the board acted. While the role of a board of governors is essential to the functioning of a university, the governance of a university must also be independent of any potential real or apparent political interference. It’s with this in mind that I bring this bill forward today.

This bill amends the University Act to ensure that appointees from the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council cannot unilaterally set the tone and direction of a university board through having a majority of votes and that university boards cannot unilaterally appoint a chancellor for their university.

This bill will bring British Columbia to the same university governance standards employed by much of the rest of Canada.

I move that this bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

———

Bill M202, University Amendment Act, 2016, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.


Video of my Speech



Media Release


Media Release: February 11, 2016
Andrew Weaver – University Boards Need More Independence
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the BC Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, is offering concrete steps for how the BC Government can remove the potential of political interference in University Boards.

“The independence of a University Board is critical. The purpose of a university is to educate people who can critically assess information to allow them to participate in an informed manner in a democracy. It’s a place that allows for innovation and creativity to flourish. It’s not a place for government to impose a top down imposition of its ideology” says Weaver. “Unfortunately, under current legislation the government has the potential to interfere in ways that could undermine that autonomy.”

Today Andrew Weaver introduced a bill in the BC Legislature that, if passed, would remove the ability of a Board of Governors to appoint a Chancellor, and that would reduce the number of provincial appointees on University Boards.

“It is highly troubling to me that the majority of University Board members at universities in our province are appointed by the provincial government. Equally troubling is that the University Board of Governors appoints a university’s Chancellor.”

In 2008 the BC Liberals amended the University Act to allow the University Board of Governors to appoint a university’s Chancellor. The BC NDP started this trend in 1997 by allowing the Board of Governors at the Technical University of BC to appoint its Chancellor.

“At UBC we’ve seen the Board of Governors interfering in a behind-the-scenes way to push out the University’s President,” says Weaver. “At UNBC we’ve witnessed the highly controversial appointment of a Chancellor. Even the Board itself was highly divided on the appointment – it only passed by one vote.”

The main concern with what has occurred at UBC and UNBC is that politically appointed members on both University Boards may have taken intrusive actions into the direction that these universities are taking. This in turn has huge implications for the governance of universities across the province.

“The potential of political interference is unacceptable for our institutions of higher learning. My hope is that the government takes my suggestions for solving this issue seriously and takes action on this issue immediately to preserve the independence of our academic institutions.”

Media Contact
Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

 

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