Lieutenant Veruschka Duval’s comment on his use of the “n” at the University of Ottawa caused a lot of ink to flow into Quebec in the fall of 2020. The very idea that academics should henceforth silence certain ideas or intellectual practices to avoid the slightest sensitivity has piqued the interest of their students. Many citizens, especially journalists, professors, university presidents and public decision-makers. To protect Quebec from such an attack, the legislator created a commission whose report led to the adoption of a law on June 7.
The ink had not yet dried on the document when Laval University vowed to mock that freedom by suspending for eight weeks without pay two professors, Patrick Provost, professor of biochemistry, and world-renowned researcher specializing in ARN, as well as biology professor Nicolas Derom. The reason: They dared openly question the safety of vaccines against COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination for children.
In the first case, a colleague who had been offended by Professor Provost’s assertions chose to file a complaint with his university management rather than just discuss it or discuss it publicly, as in university tradition, and thus adopted the censorship strategy adopted by students at the University of Ottawa a year earlier…
At the end of the investigation, which was conducted by a panel headed by a lawyer, but whose composition is not public, the management of Laval University concluded that there was confirmation bias, biased interpretations and, worse, the delivery of polarizing information and a lack of accountability to the general public. However, it is enough to read major scientific journals such as temper nature where Science To find, in almost every rendition, texts that err in the same way without their authors being repeatedly suspended by their institution.
There is no doubt, when reading these conclusions, that Laval University is working against fundamental freedoms to achieve the university’s mission. However, unlike Lieutenant Duval’s story, the Vice President’s case aroused little public interest. Although the major media outlets reporting on the issue descriptively agree on the controversial nature of the referral, most do not seem adept at presenting the fundamental and social issue without simultaneously taking a stand on the essential controversy which is nonetheless a matter of science. As for the political world, aside from the strong support for academic freedom on the part of Secretary Danielle McCann, there is also radio silence.
If some consider academic freedom necessary when the offensive position is what they are defending, they think it is less important if the statement is not unanimous. As if they could then pretend for themselves the absolute right to establish the truth and support censorship of anything they might question, a position against the scientific method itself which is clearly the position of Laval University.
As the philosopher of science Karl Popper explained nearly a century ago, you can never prove a theory (other than a trivial one) in science, you can only try to find an error in it. As for consensus, when it explodes, science makes its greatest leaps, as historian of science Thomas Kuhn has explained. However, reinforcing this fragmentation is not easy: it is precisely necessary to target carefully selected facts (confirmation bias, partial explanations) and defend their relevance to the dominant discourse (leading to information polarization). Of course, every questioning turns out to be unfounded, and many researchers have stumbled into the error for years. However, one success is enough to remind us how important the scientific method, which can only be annoying, is to the development of knowledge.
closer to us, Quebec government organic ethicists have been ahead in 2020 on the pandemic : “Reference to ‘science’ cannot be presented as the sole source of public health decisions, without referring in parallel to the main areas of uncertainty and the reasons on which the decision is based despite the uncertainties, particularly political reasons.”
Finally, the Laval University administration’s argument for abuse in front of the public arises in direct contrast to the policy of the Quebec Research Funds and the various Canadian councils that require the work and interventions of professors to be accessible to the public. to the public so that the science can be disseminated there with the greatest openness. We cannot protect the public and give them full access to the running science.
That is why the sheer validity of the words of Professors Patrick Provost and Nicolas Dérum cannot be at the heart of the issue here. This validity, which is often all shades of gray, cannot be settled by university management or an anonymous panel led by a lawyer, but by public scholarly discussion that is likely to continue for many more years.
In light of the above and in compliance with Law 32 on Academic Freedom, we request, regardless of our position on COVID vaccination, that the Laval University administration acknowledge its mistakes and immediately lift the suspension of researchers Patrick Provost and Nicolas Dérom.
I signed this letter (in alphabetical order):
Claudine Allen, Professor in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Optics, Université Laval
Guillaume Bloom, Associate Professor, School of Design, Université Laval
Olivier Poiral, Professor at Université Laval
Yves Bonnier-Figer, Medical Specialist in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Regional Director of Public Health for Gaspezi and the Islands and Professor, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval
Pierre Leo Bourbonnis Ph.D., Research Associate and Lecturer, Polytechnic Montreal
Jill Bronchetti, Emeritus Professor, Department of Anatomy, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres and President of the Professors’ Union at the University of Queensland.
Julien Bureau, Professor of Education Sciences, Laval University
Bonnie Campbell, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Quebec in Montreal
Karen Collette, Professor of Discourse Analysis, University of Sherbrooke
David Conciatori, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Water Engineering, Université Laval
Alan Denault, University of Moncton
Daniel Deroches, Professor of Philosophy, Collège Lionel-Groulx
Philippe Dube, Associate Professor, Department of Historical Sciences, Université Laval
Myriam Erts, Professor of Marketing, University of Quebec at Chicôtime
Mary Fall, Professor of Geography and International Cooperation, UQAC
Jean-Sebastien Valaud, Ph.D., Professor in the School of Psychological Education at the University of Montreal
Louis Favreau, Sociologist, Professor Emeritus, University of Quebec at Outaouais
Bernard Fruto de Laclos, MD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval
Caroline Gagnon, Professor at Laval University
Jocelyn Gagnon, Full Professor, Specialist in Effectiveness of Intervention in Physical Education and Sport, Université Laval
Laurence Guillaumie, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Université Laval
Audrey Grouleau, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Educational Sciences, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres
Alan Goebel, Professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Queensland
Pierre J. Hamel, INRS
Claudine Johnny, College Nursing Instructor
Andre Goyal, 4 vaccinations, associate professor at Qatar University
Amir Khedr, MD, Medical Microbiology, Infection, Le Gardère Hospital
Caroline Laberge, family physician, clinical professor at Université Laval
Marie-France Labric, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, Université Laval
Paul-Andre Lapointe, Professor, Department of Industrial Relations, Université Laval.
Frédéric Lasserre, Professor in the Department of Geography, Université Laval
Helen Makdisi, Emeritus Professor – Laval University
Sylvain Marois, Lecturer, Department of Industrial Relations, PhD student in Industrial Relations, Université Laval
Jean Michaud, Professor of Anthropology, Université Laval
Louise Morand, Ph.D. Education, McGill Yu.
Norman Musso, Professor of Physics, University of Montreal
Patrick Mundler, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Laval University
Paul H. Naccache, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Paolini, CIUSSS-NIM Anesthesiologist, Clinical Lecturer at the University of Montreal
Jan Parady, Retired General Manager of Collège Dalma
Liz Barnett, Professor of Environmental Science, Tulk University
Madeleine Bastenelli, Emeritus Professor, Department of Sociology, Université Laval
Chantal Poliot, Professor of Science Education, Université Laval
a. Hadi Kadri, political science teacher at Cegep de Saint-Jérôme
Christophe Rottnor, Professor of Mathematics, Queensland State University
Danny Rondo, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, University of Quebec at Rimouski
Alan Rouleau, Professor Emeritus, UQAC
Daniel Ross Ross, Emeritus Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, ÉTS
Jean-Philippe Sabinski, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Moncton
Bernard Saulnier, M.;
Lucie Sauvé, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Quebec in Montreal
Catherine Simard, Professor of Science Education, Qatar University
Hugh Thomas, Professor of Mathematics, UQAM, and Canadian Research Chair holder.
Pierre-Luc Turcotte, erg. Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
Louise Vandelac, Ph.D. Emeritus Professor, Department of Sociology and Institute of Environmental Sciences, UQAM
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