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Ukrainian students want U of A lecturer fired after calling Holodomor a ‘lie’ on Facebook

Saskatchewan's Holodomor statue in Wascana Park. File / Global News

A controversial post shared on the private Facebook page of an assistant lecturer at the University of Alberta has sparked calls for him to be reprimanded and fired.

On Nov. 20, Dougal MacDonald posted a message claiming the Holodomor genocide is a “myth,” a “lie” and a “man-made Ukrainian Famine.”

The Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union is calling on the University of Alberta to “immediately terminate and censure Assistant Lecturer Dougal MacDonald for anti-Ukrainian hate speech, Holodomor denial as well as libel and defamation of a community and a former chancellor.

“Anything less will tarnish the impeccable reputation of the University of Alberta and embolden other bigots and genocide deniers,” Roman Grod, president of the students’ union, said.

READ MORE: Travelling exhibition sheds light on Holodomor genocide

The Holodomor is a recognized genocide by the Parliament of Canada and most legislatures in Canada, including Alberta, as well as countless other countries and international government organizations around the world.

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The imposed famine in Soviet Ukraine was orchestrated by the Joseph Stalin regime in 1932 and 1933. Ten-million Ukranians died.

READ MORE: Remembering the Holodomor, 85 years after the start of the Ukrainian genocide

The post on MacDonald’s Facebook page — photos of which have been shared online by several sources, including the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union and the U of A campus newspaper The Gateway — reads, in part: “It was the Hitlerite Nazis who created the famine myth of 1933 to discredit the Soviet Union, the enemy they most feared…

“The [William Randolph] Hearst ‘yellow press’ sensationalized, exaggerated and even fabricated news stories, to try to push its reactionary agenda and to sell more newspapers. Egged on by the Hitlerites, Hearst’s papers became the biggest propagandists for the Ukrainian famine myth, using fake photographs and printing lies that have been refuted by solid evidence over and over again.”

“Trudeau’s support for anti-communist, pro-Nazi Holodomor myth is no accident,” the post continued.

“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.”

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Scroll down to read the full post, through screenshots provided by the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union.

Click to play video 'Hundreds gather in Edmonton to remember the victims of Holodomor' Hundreds gather in Edmonton to remember the victims of Holodomor
Hundreds gather in Edmonton to remember the victims of Holodomor – Nov 25, 2017

Since his Facebook page is private, Global News has not been able to independently verify the Facebook post.

In response to Global News’ request for comment, MacDonald said he’s been researching the issue for a number of years and is not alone in his views. Other researchers have expressed similar doubts about the Holodomor.

MacDonald said there are different positions and it’s clear he and the students’ union are not in agreement — but that disagreement does not mean opinions should be silenced.

“People disagree about issues all the time. I watch the news and hear perspectives I don’t agree with, as does everyone,” he wrote in his reply.

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“Freedom of speech is a right that belongs to everyone, not just to one campus club. And with all the current talk about the right to free speech going on, both on and off campus, it really amazes me that the USS believe they have the right to stop someone from speaking.”

“Canadians don’t agree with this notion of dividing everyone based on their beliefs. Without coming together and exercising our right to speak with each other we will get nowhere. So I will continue to do my research, follow the evidence where it leads, disseminate the results, and continue to try to clarify what actually happened in history,” MacDonald wrote.

READ MORE: Alberta’s Wildrose party apologizes for comparing carbon tax to Ukrainian genocide

MacDonald ran as a candidate in the 2019 federal election for the Marxist-Leninist Party. The university lists him as an assistant lecturer in the Faculty of Education, specifically, in elementary education.

The Jewish Federation of Edmonton issued its own statement on Facebook on Nov. 28.

“It is irresponsible and deeply dishonest to suggest that the Holodomor didn’t happen. This type of revisionism is dangerous, and we object to it in the strongest terms.

“Millions of Ukrainians were starved to death by Stalin’s murderous polices. That is a fact. We stand in solidarity with our friends in the Ukrainian community in the face of this absurd denial of history.”

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The university issued a statement to Global News on behalf of Deputy Provost Wendy Rodgers.

“Mr. MacDonald’s views do not represent those of the University of Alberta.

“As a private citizen, Mr. MacDonald has the right to express his opinion, and others have the right to critique or debate that opinion. It is our understanding that he has not expressed these views in the context of his employment relationship with the university.

“The university is carefully monitoring this matter, balancing many interests and obligations. The university is committed to rigorous inquiry and the robust expression and discussion of ideas, where members of the university community have the right to criticize, debate and question views. It is also committed to ensuring a diverse, equitable and inclusive learning and working environment.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan’s Ukrainian community gathers to remember Holodomor

Rodgers added there are supports available for any students or staff who have been negatively affected by the views expressed. She said students who need support should contact the office of the dean of students.

Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union shared screenshots from a post on U of A assistant lecturer Dougal MacDonald’s Facebook page on Nov. 20, 2019. Supplied: Ukrainian Canadian Students' Union

 

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Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union shared screenshots from a post on U of A assistant lecturer Dougal MacDonald’s Facebook page on Nov. 20, 2019. Supplied: Ukrainian Canadian Students' Union
Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union shared screenshots from a post on U of A assistant lecturer Dougal MacDonald’s Facebook page on Nov. 20, 2019. Supplied: Ukrainian Canadian Students' Union
A letter from the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union regarding Dougal MacDonald. Nov. 27, 2019. Supplied: Ukrainian Canadian Students' Union

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