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Controversial Acadia University professor fired amid public backlash

Acadia University professor Rick Mehta is shown in a handout photo. A professor in rural Nova Scotia that stoked a national debate about free speech on campus after making controversial comments on social media and in the classroom has been fired.
Acadia University professor Rick Mehta is shown in a handout photo. A professor in rural Nova Scotia that stoked a national debate about free speech on campus after making controversial comments on social media and in the classroom has been fired. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Rick Mehta MANDATORY CREDIT

A psychology professor at Acadia University with controversial views on decolonization, immigration and gender policies has been fired.

On Friday, university spokesperson Scott Roberts confirmed the firing of Rick Mehta, who made headlines back in March amid allegations of “racist and transphobic comments” in class.

Roberts would not comment further on the reasoning for Mehta’s dismissal.

Mehta tells Global News that he was let go by Acadia president Peter Ricketts on Aug. 31.

“It’s disappointing,” Mehta said. “I’d be at the university for the past 15 years … and it was only in the last year that I started speaking out about what I think is wrong at the university campuses.”

READ MORE: Acadia University launches investigation of controversial free-speech professor

Mehta would not comment on the matter further, citing a statement he intends to release on the dismissal sometime next week.

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The Acadia University Faulty Association said in a statement Friday that it has filed for arbitration.

“The termination of a tenured professor is very serious, and (the faculty association) has filed for arbitration while its senior grievance officer and legal counsel examine the administration’s disciplinary procedures and evidence,” the statement said.

A debate about free-speech on campus was ignited by Mehta for his views on a range of contentious issues. Mehta labels himself a “free-speech advocate” trying to “build bridges across political divides,” but critics believe he reiterates harmful stereotypes.

READ MORE: Outspoken professor stokes free-speech debate at East Coast university

A six-month investigation into Mehta’s conduct began on Feb. 13.

— With files from The Canadian Press.