TORONTO – An Ontario judge has rejected a deceased doctor’s plan to create university scholarships exclusively for white, single and heterosexual students.
In a decision published last week, Ontario Superior Court Judge Alissa Mitchell instructed Dr. Victor Priebe’s trustee to ignore stipulations in his will that discriminate on grounds of race, religion and sex, leaving them contrary to public policy.
“Although it is not expressly stated by Dr. Priebe that he subscribed to white supremacist, homophobic and misogynistic views … [stipulations in the will] leave no doubt as to Dr. Priebe’s views and his intention to discriminate on these grounds,” the judge said.
Priebe died on New Year’s Day 2015, and left money to establish two controversial scholarships at the University of Western Ontario or the University of Windsor.
The first provided “awards or bursaries to Caucasian (white) male, single, heterosexual students in scientific studies, including medicine, genetics, biology, chemistry, physics and those going into medical pharmacology research,” the will states.
The other would be awarded to a similarly specific female in any scientific field besides medicine.
“This award is to go to a hard-working, single, Caucasian white girl who is not a feminist or lesbian, with special consideration, if she is an immigrant, but not necessarily a recent one,” the will stated.
“No awards to be given to anyone who plays intercollegiate sports,” the will adds.
Priebe’s had apparently anticipated some trouble with his bequests, since the will also said that if his requirements were struck down by a court, the proposed scholarships must be “deleted.”
Instead, the money for his scholarships will go to other charitable trusts named in the will.
The Royal Trust Corporation had asked the court for guidance in how to administer the doctor’s estate in accordance to his will.
The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, which is part of the provincial Ministry of the Attorney General, had pushed for the provisions to be struck down as contrary to public policy.
The office helps protect charitable assets and may participate in court cases where an estate trustee is seeking advice on a charitable gift, ministry spokesman Brendan Crawley said Monday.
“It is well established that provisions that are contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code will be found to be void as being contrary to public policy,” though such provisions are “relatively rare,” he said in an email.
In a 2014 decision, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal rejected a large bequest of over $250,000 worth of coins and other artifacts to a U.S.-based neo-Nazi group.
In another case dating back to 1990, the Ontario Court of Appeal found that a trust creating a scholarship exclusively for white Christians of British nationality or parentage was “premised on notions of racism and religious superiority that contravened contemporary public policy.”
With files from Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press.