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Alberta University of Lethbridge reinstates professor accused of anti-Semitic views

University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall speaks at the Lethbridge Herald newsroom in this undated handout photo.

HO, Lethbridge Herald, Ian Martens/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A professor accused of espousing anti-Semitic views has been reinstated at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.

The university confirmed in an e-mail Thursday that Anthony Hall is no longer suspended, but wouldn't comment further.

The board of governors and the faculty association also said in a brief, joint statement that issues around Anthony Hall's activities will be addressed in the context of the faculty handbook, but they didn't explain how that would be done.

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Hall, a tenured professor who has taught Native American studies, liberal education and globalization over his 26 years at the university, was suspended in October 2016 following comments he made in online articles and videos suggesting there was a Zionist connection to the 9/11 attacks and that the events of the Holocaust should be up for debate.

He maintains the issue is academic freedom and that he should be allowed to promote his work as he sees fit.

B'nai Brith Canada says it's outraged by the decision and blames the Alberta NDP government, saying it passed bills that strengthened the faculty association's position in the matter.

"Premier Notley and her government bear direct responsibility for placing a discredited conspiracy theorist back in a university classroom," Michael Mostyn, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, said in a news release.

"We repeatedly warned the government of the likely outcome of its actions, but they sadly chose to ignore our warnings and expose Alberta university students to anti-Semitism and discrimination instead.

"Despite this setback, we expect the University of Lethbridge to continue fighting anti-Semitism on campus, and to do whatever it takes to ensure that Hall has no podium for his unhinged anti-Semitic nonsense."

In May, a law came into effect bringing post-secondary academic staff under the Labour Relations Code instead of the Post-Secondary Learning Act.

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Cheryl Oates, spokeswoman for the Alberta government, said the law did not allow Hall back into the university.

"The views of this individual are repulsive, offensive and not reflective of Alberta," Oates said in an e-mail. "Government was solely involved in protecting the arbitration process, which had nothing to do with the allegations against him. As well, the individual will be under investigation by a committee at the university that is enshrined in their collective agreement."

Hall said in an e-mail to the Lethbridge Herald that he is happy to be back and is looking forward to returning to teaching in September.

"I believe we have a significant public service to perform at the University of Lethbridge by addressing in a properly constituted academic venue some of the contentious issues that have been raised," Hall said in the e-mail.

"Those most attuned to the importance of maintaining existing protections for academic freedom, for tenure, and for the conditions of healthy open debate on all subjects inside and outside of universities will appreciate the significance of delivering this matter to the internal procedures of our own institutions of higher learning."

Both the faculty association and the Canadian Association of University Teachers criticized Hall's suspension before any official finding of wrongdoing.

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The university said in January that it was filing a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission against Hall "for publishing statements, alone and in collaboration with others, that could be considered hateful, contemptuous and discriminatory."

According to Hall, that complaint will be withdrawn, but the university did not confirm that.

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