Some University of Alberta students want the school to fire an assistant lecturer who denies the Holodomor, the mass genocide of Ukrainian people carried out by the former Soviet Union in the early 1930s.
In a Nov. 19 Facebook post, Dougal MacDonald, a sessional instructor in the Department of Elementary Education, called the Holodomor a lie perpetuated with fake photographs and news stories spread by former Nazi collaborators.
The university’s Ukrainian Student Society calls the post hate speech and says it demonstrates that MacDonald is not fit to teach.
In an e-mail to CTV News, MacDonald says he has researched the Holodomor for a number of years and has a right to free speech.
The famine was recognized in 2008 by Canada and nine other countries as an act of genocide perpetuated by the Soviets under Joseph Stalin.
It’s estimated that up to 10 million people died.
“(Prime Minister) Trudeau’s support for the anti-communist, pro-Nazi Holodomor myth is no accident,” MacDonald’s Facebook post read.
“The Trudeau government’s promotion of the Holodomor myth is more of its self-serving agenda to attempt to rewrite history, while falsely claiming to support freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Ivanka Soletsky, a university student and Ukrainian Student Society member, said someone with those views in a time of political instability should no longer be able to teach at the university.
“Students have a lot of respect for their professors … and typically take what they say as truth because we assume that they know what they’re talking about,” she said.
“In this case, Mr. MacDonald is making claims against historical facts recognized by the government of Canada for over a decade.”
Other organizations, such as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, are also calling for MacDonald’s “immediate censure and termination.”
The Jewish Federation of Edmonton issued its own statement on Facebook, calling it “dangerous” revisionist history.
“We stand in solidarity with our friends in the Ukrainian community in the face of this absurd denial of history,” the organization said.
In his e-mail to CTV, MacDonald said what society members find offensive is that he does not agree with them.
“They arrogantly claim that my disagreement means I am not allowed to speak … I do not debate with those kind of people.”
The University of Alberta said in a statement that MacDonald’s views do not represent those of the institution, but he has a right to share them.
Deputy provost Wendy Rodgers said the university is “carefully monitoring” but no action would be taken.
MacDonald has previously run for the Marxist-Leninist Party in Edmonton-Strathcona in the last two federal elections.
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Editor’s note: (Dec. 2, 2019): An earlier version of this story mistakenly said the Jewish Federation of Edmonton had called for Dougal MacDonald's termination.