British Columbia

James Moore's UNBC chancellor appointment raises academic eyebrows

The former Conservative cabinet minister’s new role at the university is raising some eyebrows, as critics argue that James Moore is linked to the same party that muzzled scientists and neglected aboriginal affairs.

UNBC English prof says Moore is linked to same party that muzzled scientists

Former Conservative MP James Moore is the first UNBC alumni to be named chancellor of the university, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Not everyone is happy about James Moore's appointment as chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia.

One UNBC professor said Moore, a onetime Tory cabinet minister, is linked to the same party that muzzled scientists and neglected aboriginal affairs. It sends the wrong message, argued  Robb Budde, an English professor at UNBC.

"If you think about the Harper government and the seemingly anti-science stance that the Conservative party held, cuts to funding from the arts, and finally, the Harper government's party's policy surrounding First Nations and his refusal to initiate the inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women -- again, the message it sends."

Moore, a UNBC graduate, said he respects those who do not agree with his political choices, but that he hopes people will be open minded enough to work with him, regardless.

Politics is a "past chapter" of his life, he said.

'It's sincerely an honour'

Moore, 39, is the first UNBC alumnus to be named chancellor of the university, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. He says the decision to leave the Lower Mainland and study in B.C.'s north was a pivotal time in his life.

"I wanted to have that dual experience of academic exposure but also learn more about myself and to be away. And frankly I wanted to know a little bit more about British Columbia." he said.

Earlier this year, UNBC was ranked number one among Canada's small universities, according to Maclean's Magazine rankings. (UNBC)

As a student, the former Port Coquitlam-Port Moody MP helped start the political science association at the university. At the time, he said he had no idea he would end up in politics, let alone become chancellor one day.

"When I was at UNBC, I was entirely focused on graduating from the school. Beyond that, I didn't know," said Moore.

'Natural choice'

Ryan Matheson, chair of UNBC's board of governors, said Moore is one of the university's most public alumni, making him a natural choice for the job.

"[He was] twice nominated as UNBC alumni of the year, he represents a lot of what UNBC can give, not only to British Columbia but also Canada."

Matheson, himself a UNBC grad, said the university heard from different constituent groups at the university before appointing Moore.

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: James Moore on being named UNBC chancellor.

With files from Andrew Kurjata


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