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May 8, 2024 Censorship/Surveillance COVID News

COVID

University Nabs $42 Million for ‘Pandemic Preparedness’ 2 Weeks After Firing Scientist for Questioning COVID Shots for Kids

Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, fired professor Patrick Provost, Ph.D., for publicly questioning the safety and necessity of COVID-19 vaccines for children. Two weeks later, the university received $42 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to set up a center to prepare for future pandemics.

patrick provost and covid vaccines

A Canadian university has fired Patrick Provost, Ph.D., a professor and scientist experienced in the field of RNA and lipid nanoparticles, reigniting the debate around academic freedom and the suppression of scientific discourse.

Laval University, a public research university in Quebec City, suspended Provost multiple times for publicly questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and the necessity of vaccinating children.

On March 28, the university fired Provost, who had tenure in the Department of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the university’s Medical School.

The firing, which comes as his previous suspensions are still being arbitrated — and despite a Quebec law protecting academic freedom — first made headlines in Quebec’s Le Devoir on April 26, a day after Libre Média published portions of Provost’s letter to colleagues.

“Are we witnessing the re-engineering of society, where we will no longer be able to freely express or debate … where professors will censor themselves, rather than intervene … in order to preserve their privileges?” Provost wrote.

Laval’s controversial decision follows Harvard University’s example in March, when it fired Martin Kulldorff, Ph.D., one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, ostensibly for non-compliance with the university’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

‘I could not remain silent’

Over his 35-year career in academic research, Provost authored nearly 100 papers, was cited in over 16,000 research articles and received three “Discovery of the Year” awards in recognition of his research.

He was a leading expert in the field of RNA for the past 20 years and in the field of lipid nanoparticles for the past 10 years.

His extensive knowledge of these key components of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines compelled him to question the possible dangers associated with the novel treatments when the Canadian government rolled them out in 2021.

“Being aware of the potential risks, known and unknown, associated with these new ‘vaccines,’ I could not remain silent on such important issues, where lives were at stake, particularly those of children,” Provost wrote in his letter.

He said he felt compelled to share his concerns with the public, colleagues and government officials, to promote transparency and informed decision-making.

Despite his attempts to engage in dialogue and debate, Provost received no response other than the disciplinary actions taken by Laval University.

He was suspended without pay on four separate occasions. The first suspension, of eight weeks, was imposed on June 13, 2022, following a complaint from a professor, and the second, of four months, was imposed on Jan. 23, 2023, after a complaint from a citizen.

A sixth complaint was dropped on Feb. 14, 2023, after more than 275 colleagues wrote to the university denouncing its treatment of Provost as “abusive.”

Laval maintains his actions were not related to academic freedom but instead infringed on the university’s policymaking authority, Provost told The Defender.

In his letter, Provost expressed his disappointment in the lack of open discussion on the COVID-19 vaccine issue, asking, “Why have peers disappeared from adversarial public debate?”

Academic freedom ‘the last line of defence’ for democracy

Provost’s dismissal sparked concerns about the enforcement of Quebec’s law — passed in June 2022 — protecting academic freedom, The Epoch Times reported.

“University professors have the right to criticize their own institutions — even the government,” Provost told The Defender, who said his case should never have gone before an arbitrator.

The parliamentary minister declined to intervene, however, and — wanting to avoid the accusation of intervening in the legal process — claimed the arbitration process must proceed, according to Provost.

Critics argue that the law was not effectively enforced, leading to the suppression of dissenting opinions and the punishment of researchers who challenge dominant narratives.

The Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU), told The Epoch Times that Provost’s dismissal was an “unacceptable attack against academic freedom.”

FQPPU President Madeleine Pastinelli said, “If the theses defended by a professor are upsetting or erroneous, it’s the duty of other specialists in the field to criticize or contradict them on a scientific level and certainly not for managers to establish the limit between what is valuable or not.”

“It’s not normal for professors to fear retaliation when they speak publicly against government directives,” said Quebec Conservative Party Leader Éric Duhaime. “In democracy, universities must remain independent from political interests.”

In a letter of support for Provost, nine Canadian academics warned, “If we give place to censorship in the university, we give place to censorship virtually everywhere else.” They called academic freedom — and particularly tenure — “the last line of defence” for democracy.

Provost agreed, telling The Defender, “If the freedom of speech of professors disappears, democracy will disappear too, quite soon after.”

Canada is lost. Democracy only exists with robust academic freedom

1/ Great to see that BOTH Prof @provost_patrick‘s union & the Quebec Federation of University Professors (QFUP) supporting/defending him against what they call is an “unacceptable attack against academic freedom” https://t.co/p76ZoXhOEe

— Kulvinder Kaur MD (@dockaurG) May 2, 2024

Laval got $42 million for pandemic preparedness two weeks after firing

Provost’s dismissal also raised concerns about the influence of financial interests and political pressure on academic institutions.

Douglas Farrow, Ph.D., professor of theology and ethics at McGill University in Montreal and one of the authors of the recent letter in support of Provost, wrote on his Substack that the suppression of academic freedom often aligns with the interests of powerful entities, such as pharmaceutical companies and government agencies that provide significant funding to universities.

Farrow highlighted funding recently received by Laval University: “[$]42 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to set up a centre to help prepare for future ‘pandemics.’”

“That’s a lot of money,” Provost told The Defender. “I’m wondering if my dismissal is linked to this announcement, which came about two weeks after I’d been fired.”

“Those vested interests don’t give a damn about science as such,” Farrow wrote. “It is ‘The Science’ they care about, because that is the kind of science you can be told by narrative-spinners to follow.”

Hopes for a favorable ruling

Provost and the Union of Laval University Professors have filed around 20 formal grievances challenging his suspensions and dismissal.

Provost said he hoped a favorable ruling from the arbitrator on the initial suspension would function “like falling dominoes,” setting a precedent for lifting the subsequent suspensions and ultimately paving the way for his reinstatement.

However, the arbitration process is expected to be lengthy, with a decision on the first suspension not anticipated until January 2025, more than three years after the alleged offenses.

If arbitration fails, Provost said he may pursue other options but lamented that “the legal system is really very corrupted by the government” in Canada.

The long battle has taken a toll on Provost’s energy and finances, which are now exacerbated by the loss of his position entirely. He has four children who are still financially dependent, with two still at home.

His two college-aged children have to “work more and borrow money from the bank,” he said, but noted that his family has been “very, very supportive.”

“Father, don’t worry about us,” his children told him. “You have to win this fight and we stand behind you.”

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