British Columbia

UNBC senate pass non-confidence motion over James Moore chancellor appointment

Senators at UNBC in Prince George say they have lost confidence in the chair of the board of governors over the naming of James Moore as chancellor.

Appointment of former Conservative cabinet minister has met with stout resistance from students, faculty

UNBC has been mired in controversy since former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore was appointed chancellor last November. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Senators at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George say they have lost confidence in the chair of the board of governors over how former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore was appointed chancellor. 

The body — which represents students, faculty and staff — passed a motion of non-confidence related to board chair Ryan Matheson late Wednesday.

"It's my view and the view of the senate that we weren't properly consulted, that the consultation as required by the university act didn't take place on the appointment of the chancellor," said senate member David Clarkson. "That fundamental step is missing and cast a shadow on the entire appointment."

"There hasn't been a strong admission, or entertainment by the board chair that he could be wrong," said Clarkson. "Based on that, if he's unwilling to admit the possibility of mistake, is he competent to lead the university?"

UNBC campus in Prince George. (UNBC)

Moore's appointment, which was announced in November, will not be reconsidered, Matheson said in a statement.

"It's clear that there are some who are against the decision that the Board arrived at regarding the Chancellor appointment, and they continue to express their opposition," wrote Matheson. "However, the decision has been made and we can't continue to re-visit this item week after week."

A motion to replace Matheson was also introduced at the senate meeting but was withdrawn.

Last month students and faculty, some with duct tape over their mouths, protested at a UNBC board of governors meeting. 

A group of UNBC faculty holds up signs at a board of governors meeting protesting ex-Conservative MP James Moore's appointment as chancellor. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has also weighed in, saying that the university's senate was not properly consulted. The group has called upon B.C. advanced education minister Andrew Wilkinson to review the appointment. 

Over 2,100 people have signed a petition asking UNBC to reverse the decision.

Critics of Moore's appointment say his actions as a federal minister — including supporting the muzzling of scientists,failing to take meaningful action on climate change, and refusing to consider an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women — are in opposition to the core values of the university.

Moore earned his undergraduate degree from the Prince George university and is the first alumnus to be named chancellor.