Go back to U.S. if you don’t like it here, Quebec MP tells Canadian professor who said province is racist

Amir Attaran has been a Canadian citizen for about 20 years, as well as holding U.S. and Iranian citizenship, and was a permanent resident of this country before that

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The angry fallout from a law professor’s accusations of racism in Quebec continued Wednesday, as a Conservative MP from the province suggested Amir Attaran go back to the U.S. where he was born if he doesn’t like it here.

In a Tweet about the University of Ottawa academic, who alleged Quebec was governed by white supremacists, Conservative Pierre Paul-Hus also referred to Attaran as “Iranian-American.”

In fact, the health policy expert has been a Canadian citizen for about 20 years, as well as holding American and Iranian citizenship, and was a permanent resident of this country before that. He even received the Senate 150 Medal in 2018, awarded by the upper house to Canadians who make their communities “a better place to live.”

Paul-Hus’s Twitter remark itself looks discriminatory, reminiscent of similar comments by former U.S. President Donald Trump about Democratic congresswomen with links to other countries, Attaran said.

“He may not like my opinions, which is fine,” the professor said about Paul-Hus. “But to resort to racial division and a request to exclude those who are not native-born is an insult to every immigrant in Canada and every person of a different ethnicity or skin colour.”

“There is no dog whistling here,” Attaran added. “There is a bull horn of racism, and it is painted Conservative blue.”

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Meanwhile, the association for university faculty members wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday, saying the Liberal’s own rebuke of Attaran for alleged “Quebec bashing” was a “highly inappropriate” assault on academic freedom.

The professor said he’s received scores of crude and racially tinged emails written in French.

In his tweet, Paul-Hus did not respond to Attaran’s allegations, but addressed the professor directly. “If you are not well in Canada, I invite you to return to the United States,” he wrote.

The Conservatives’ public works and procurement critic could not be reached for comment.

A spokesman for Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

The heated affair began with a series of provocative tweets by Attaran commenting on race-related policies and incidents in Quebec, including the revelation that a hospital had several times advertised for white-only employees because of a “difficult” patient. A temp-hiring agency later told the CBC that such requests are common from public sector health organizations in the province.

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He also tweeted about Joyce Echaquan, an Indigenous woman who died in a Joliette, Que., hospital recently after recording derogatory and insulting remarks made to her by hospital staff. She was the victim of a “medical lynching,” the academic alleged.

Attaran said Quebec was governed by white supremacists and called it the “Alabama of the north,” noting the province failed to label the whites-only job ads as racist, and vetoed a planned resolution by first ministers declaring the existence of systemic racism. The president of the province’s own human rights commission said last October that systemic racism was a reality in Quebec

Various Quebec politicians condemned Attaran’s comments, some saying he was racist himself. Trudeau said it was time to end “Quebec bashing.”

Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus.
Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Among the hate mail Attaran said he’s received was one message suggesting he get raped by late terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, another calling him an Iranian son of a dog and son of a whore in the same sentence.

Before coming to Canada, the San Diego, Calif., native earned credentials from an array of the world’s top universities, including Berkeley, Caltech and Oxford, where he obtained a doctorate in immunology while starting his law degree at the University of British Columbia.

Attaran worked at both Yale and Harvard before being recruited by the University of Ottawa.

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The professor is an outspoken and sharply worded critic of governments of all stripes, most recently warning of trouble with the Liberals’ COVID-19 vaccine procurement efforts months before that became a burning issue.

In its letter to Trudeau, the Canadian Association of University Teachers accused the prime minister of publicly censuring and interfering with his academic freedom.

“You may disagree with Dr. Attaran’s views, but you must not pressure or be seen to be pressuring the University of Ottawa administration to act against him,” the association wrote.

• Email: tblackwell@postmedia.com | Twitter: tomblackwellNP

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