- discredit the University, at home and abroad;
- embarrass University donors and holders of honorary UWaterloo degrees;
- undermine the efforts of Muslims challenging extremism, including so-called “stealth jihad”; and
- bring into disrepute those University officers and staff responsible for facilitating the award.
The move validates widespread concern, as revealed in this Campus Watch article by Canadian journalist Barbara Kay and a letter from concerned faculty and friends at HUC, both published in May , that the support of several Islamist groups in funding the chair would lead to the appointment of a radical Islamist as the first holder. In Ingrid Mattson, the funders’ wishes have been fulfilled.
Beyond the variety of other criticisms one could properly marshal against any University of Waterloo’s plan to recognize Dr. Mattson, lies a further problem. The fact of the granting to this individual of an honorary degree highlighting the discipline and calling of law constitutes, in our view, an insult to Canadian constitutional values enshrined in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For, in what we believe to be a direct assault upon the right of Freedom of Expression under s. 2 of the Charter, it is our considered opinion that Dr. Mattson and the interests supporting her have in the past misused Canadian libel law in an attempt to silence public discussion about her history and links, including the fact that she has never condemned publicly and by name certain ideological extremists with whom she has had dealings. It is perhaps because of this silencing that some University officials may have been unaware of the grave error reflected in the Mattson honoris causa proposal.
This error is a particular affront to Canadian Muslims, when one considers how many untainted Muslims would warrant an honorary doctorate. One thinks of Mrs. Raheel Raza, author and President of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow; Dr. Farzana Hassan, author and former President of the Muslim Canadian Congress; Dr. Salim Mansur, author, University of Western Ontario Professor; and a great many more.
It is not clear at the moment whether the Mattson initiative reflects a simple, if egregious, failure of professional due diligence on the part of University of Waterloo officers, or whether such officers had been maneuvered unwittingly by Islamists or others from within or without the University, in the latter’s hope to “launder” Dr. Mattson for public consumption. Indeed, some combination of these dynamics may or may not be in train. The University must determine how this unacceptable situation unfolded.
Based on our observations of similar situations, it would be expected that supporters of Dr. Mattson would respond to concerns about her by proffering endorsements from Mattson’s associates. However, we suggest that the University consider that those offering endorsements in this case would generally be persons and institutions having themselves been, virtually by definition, compromised and rendered unreliable for diligence purposes. Indeed, some endorsers might feel obliged by their former personal or professional negligence to retroactively justify ill-informed earlier engagement with Dr. Mattson.
It is especially noted that Dr. Mattson has, to an extraordinary extent, relied for her credibility on limited links that she formerly had with the U.S. government, through outreach programs. Dr. Mattson’s usual reliance for bona fides typically involves advertising her activity with military chaplaincy programs, but the U.S. and Canadian chaplaincy programs have been fraught with issues of Islamist penetration. To mention merely one example: the U.S. program was established by the al-Qaeda-linked Abdurahman Alamoudi—once portrayed in network media as a model Muslim moderate—who today is serving a lengthy prison term following involvement in a major international assassination plot.
In fact, military and other government outreach has hardly been an unmitigated success: American-born Anwar al-Awlaki, invited to present
A good deal of the foregoing is detailed in material appearing in court documents connected to the failed Mattson libel “silencing” lawsuit, Mattson v. Harris. No invitation to honor Dr. Mattson should possibly have been considered without relevant University of Waterloo officials’ having first acquitted themselves of their professional due diligence responsibilities, by, among other obligations, mastering the content of the publicly available documents therein. Please regard as incorporated by reference in the present email, The Lawfare Project’s July 6, 2016 news release, “Collapse of Mattson Libel Suit Signals Victory for Free Speech and The Lawfare Project,” including the very significant “Statement of Defence” and other documents appearing by link in, or as attachments to, the news release.
- cancel forthwith the proposed awarding of its honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Dr. Ingrid Mattson;
- authorize establishment of an independent review of the circumstances surrounding this disturbing episode, including any manipulation by University insiders or others sympathetic to radical Islamism;
- upon announcing investigative findings and any disciplinary action, set and enforce appropriate standards of professional due-diligence for employees involved in the process of selecting candidate-recipients of University of Waterloo honorary degrees; and,
- make special efforts to recognize Canadian Muslims and others who honorably and effectively reflect the values and aspirations of Canada and the University of Waterloo.