(en) TakeAction: UofT Honours George Bush

Elena Lonero (Elena_Lonero@mail.campuslife.utoronto.ca)
Sat, 11 Oct 1997 13:51:47 -0400

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Hi here's the e-version of the George Bush package. we need names names names. BIG names. small names.

The key is to get individuals; email networks, coalitions; or organizations (AND their members) to sign on. You can change the cover letter to address particular groups.

Thanks for the help. Elena ________________________________________________________ COVER LETTER:

As you may know, the University of Toronto's Governing Council has decided to grant former U.S. President and CIA director George Bush an Honorary Degree at a special invitation-only convocation on November 19th. This announcement has already generated an outpouring of anger and opposition - enough to catch national media attention.

There is nothing in George Bush's long career which makes him worthy of honour from this University (see attached). He was responsible for violations of both international and American law, bloody foreign interventions and invasions, political corruption and support of covert terrorism in regions too numerous to mention. As Vice-President and President, his administrations were marked by financial mismanagement, erosion of social programs and rampant military spending. This is what the university president, Robert Prichard, lauds as a lifetime dedicated to public service.

For years this university has been irresponsibly handing out honorary degrees, often based on fundraising potential and corporate connections rather than merit. Meanwhile hundreds of Canadian and international figures who richly deserve to be recognized have been overlooked. Now this process has gone too far and threaten to seriously breach the integrity of this institution and the trust of the community.

This outrage will not go unchallenged. We want to make sure that every person in this university and this city has an opportunity to voice their opposition to Bush's appearance. U of T Governing Council, which is responsible for this decision and is supposed to represent the interests of the university community, rarely communicates with its constituency. We want this to change and we hope, despite its dismal track record, that a strong message from inside and outside the university will lead to a review of the decision. We would like your support.

Please take a minute to sign and return the following letter before October 24. Not only will it force members of Governing Council to recognize the dissent and anger they have caused, but it will also send a public message that most of the people here do not support such a disgraceful move. All names (unless indicated otherwise) will be published along with the letter in the Varsity campus newspaper.

We also encourage you to personally express your views. You can write a personal statement as to why you oppose this decision and either return it to us (we will make sure it gets there) or send it to Office of the Governing Council. Please join us at the council meeting on November 3 at 5pm (Simcoe Hall, UofT) to demand that they rescind the invitation to George Bush.

If you would like to become involved in the active protest against Bush's presence on campus, please attend a public organizing meeting on October 16, 7:15pm at the ISC, 33 St. George St (Toronto).

Thank you for your consideration. Please inform any colleagues or friends who may want to participate.

Reply to: *** Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG)-Toronto *** 201-455 Spadina Ave, Toronto M5S 2G8 by phone (416) 978-7770 by fax (416) 971-2292 by email opirg@campuslife.utoronto.ca

PS. We would like to further pressure the administration by publishing the letter with all its signatiories. Any donations to this end will be gratefully accepted.

_________________________________________________________________ LETTER TO GOVERNING COUNCIL:

To: Robert Prichard, University of Toronto President Hal Jackman, Honorary Degrees Committee Chair Members of Governing Council

We, the undersigned, would like to express our strong opposition to the decision to grant an honorary degree to former CIA director and American President George Bush.

It is troubling indeed that the University of Toronto is poised to bestow any honour upon so dubious a candidate. George Bush has never demonstrated enlightened leadership nor distinguished accomplishment. One simply needs to glance through the highlights of his public career (see attached) to determine that it has been punctuated by examples of financial mismanagement, dishonest and/or illegal activity, and gross human rights abuses which ought to disqualify him from honour. His arrogant and aggressive policies at the both the domestic and global level have been consistently condemned by international communities, his constituents and media organizations alike.

There are many Canadian and international figures who are far more deserving of recognition by this university. We should not uphold George Bush as a role model nor defend his responsibility for warfare, bloodshed, international terrorism and attacks on basic human dignity. To grant Mr. Bush a degree degrades the accomplishments and the ideals for which students here strive. It discredits faculty members whose reputations are bound to that of this institution. It insults all the members of this community who have personally suffered from American interventionist foreign policy, and in some cases lost loved ones in conflicts sanctioned or supported by Mr. Bush. This decision undermines the values of this university and threatens its integrity as a place for reasoned, independent and ethical thought.

Far from bringing prestige upon the university, we believe that local as well as international communities will be as confused and outraged by this show of support for Bush's legacy as we are. For these and other reasons we sincerely urge you to reconsider the decision to take this action, and to minimize embarrassment for U of T by rescinding the invitation without delay.

Signed - NAME(S):


Optional - Organization/Title: Phone: Fax: Email:

Mark an x here if you do not wish your support to be published in the media:

________________________________________________________________________ Curriculum vitae: GEORGE BUSH Highlights from 'a lifetime dedicated to public service'

As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):

* Enthusiastically supported the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, which resulted in the death of 60,000 people - about 10 per cent of the population.

* A leaked House Select Committee on Intelligence report named the CIA (when headed by Bush) as being involved in a manipulative and devastating covert operation which provided limited support to the Kurds for their struggle for independence. The effort intentionally failed, in order to harrass Iraq while maintaining Iranian superiority. The Kurds involved were later executed by Iraq.

* Implicated in massive cover up of illegal covert operations in Angola.

* "The October Surprise": While running for vice-president in 1980, along with newly appointed CIA head William Casey, negotiated an arms-for-hostages deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran and then Iranian Prime Minister Bani-sadr. The deal provided military weapons to Iran for its war on Iraq, in exchange for the release of American hostages. The deal also involved a payment of $40 million to Iran in exchange for the delayed release of the hostages until after the 1980 election - so that the Ronald Reagan and Bush duo would be credited for the release.

As Vice-president [with Ronald Reagan]:

* The Reagan-Bush regime (and the CIA) began to fund the Contras of Nicaragua, in an attempt to destabilize the Sandinista government. Both Bush and Reagan convinced U.S. Congress to allocate funds earmarked for "Humanitarian Aid" to arm the Contras. In ten years of attacks on the Sandinistas, the Contras failed to overthrow the government - instead they led to the death of over 100,000 people, the destruction of 440 villages and forced millions to flee. International Court of Justice & Peace finds the American government guilty of aggression towards Nicaragua in violation of international law.

* The US military begins to train a special elite counterinsurgency unit in El Salvador which would be later responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

* Bush supported $140 billion in cuts to social spending; slashing spending on health, education, senior citizens, pregnant women welfare program, and the environment.

* Increased military spending by $200 billion.

* Increased the American deficit from $2.86 trillion to $4.1 trillion in just two years.

* In 1987, the biggest scandal since Watergate erupted in Washington - the Iran-Contra Deal. Reagan and Bush administrations were caught violating congressional edict which had forbidden aid to the Contras. Several top government and military aides are found guilty and jailed for their involvement, Reagan and Bush manage to survive the scandal.

* Tampered with environmental laws to bolster corporate profit. This allowed factories to freely pollute the environment resulting in the destruction of Canadian forests, rivers and streams.

As President:

* Invaded the country of Panama (seven months after a $10 million bid to rig the national elections) in order to arrest Manuel Noreiga on drug trafficking charges and instate a more obedient leader. Noriega had been a longtime CIA agent. In a week-long operation that cost over $2 billion, American troops massacred over 2,000 civilians. Afterwards, Bush stated that it had become a better country but, in fact, Panamanian people suffered from an sharp increase in poverty, unemployment and inflation. A UN Committee report cited "serious and systemic human rights violations".

* The Gulf War. In early 1991, USA attacked Iraq ostensibly to defend Kuwait from invasion, but primarily to protect US oil interests and maintain low consumer prices. The preeminent event of his public career. Won him 19 charges in front of the International War Crimes Tribunal, including: ordering the destruction of essential human services, other civilian targets and enemy military units seeking to surrender or withdraw. * Previously, Sadam Hussein's regime was supported against Iran by the US. In the two years before the war, Bush's administration intentionally provoked Iraq in order to justify military action and later acted to prevent any interference or non-military resolution to the conflict. His government launched a massive and embellished public relations campaign to win the support of the American public. * According to Greenpeace, in the aftermath of the war Iraq suffered 243,000 casualties. It also cites 380 per cent increase in infant mortality, 46,900 child deaths from war related causes and that 900,000 Iraqi children remain malnourished. * Eventually, the US admitted that 70 per cent of its bombs missed its intended targets, resulting in the death of innocent civilians. * Violated the terms of the Geneva Convention by using the chemical weapon Napalm to burn people alive.

* 1n 1992 Bush issued Christmas Day pardons to all high ranking government and military officials convicted in the Iran-Contra Scandal.

* Continued to press for heavy military spending and to increase the deficit.

And at University of Toronto....

* Bush sits on the international advisory board of Barrick Gold - a hugely powerful company which has been accused of exploiting and extracting the natural wealth of developing countries in crisis and also of political interference, such as financially sponsoring puppet dictator regimes and coups (particularly in Central Africa).

* Coincidentally, Barrick Gold CEO & President Peter Munk will make a large gift to the U of T Centre for International Studies of an amount to be announced around the same time that Bush appears on campus (estimates range as high as $10 million). Administrators claim that this patronage will have no effect nor impact on the scholarship generated by the new Centre.

Compiled from various sources by OPIRG-Toronto 201-455 Spadina Ave. Toronto M5S 2G8 phone (416) 978-7770 fax 971-2292 email: opirg@campuslife.utoronto.ca


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