Faculty association says firing a tenured prof ‘very serious,’ files for arbitration

Acadia University has fired tenured professor Rick Mehta, a move that comes months after a formal investigation was launched into complaints over controversial comments he made on social media and in the classroom.

Mehta said in an interview he is disappointed by the university’s decision to fire him on Aug. 31, and he has filed for arbitration and wants his job back.

“By the collective agreement they do have to say that it’s just cause, but I guess I would disagree with that,” said Mehta, who did not offer further details on his dismissal.

The university confirmed Mehta was let go, but Acadia spokesperson Scott Roberts refused to comment on what led to the firing and said it was a “personnel matter.”

The associate professor of psychology has been outspoken on a range of contentious issues. He has come under fire for saying multiculturalism is a scam, there’s no wage gap between men and women, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has created a victim narrative.

“The whole purpose of when I started advocating for free speech was to try to prevent controversy from happening at the university. So it looks like what I intended didn’t go as planned,” Mehta said Friday.

“I think the outcome of the arbitration case would have strong national implications for academic freedom in Canada. So I think that’s why my story would be an important one to focus on.”

University investigation

In a letter in February, Heather Hemming, vice-president academic at the Wolfville, N.S., school, said that students, faculty and others were concerned about his views.

“These concerns relate to the manner in which you are expressing views that you are alleged to be advancing or supporting and, in some instances, time that you are spending on these issues in the classroom,” she said in a letter on Feb. 13.

“The university has a legal responsibility to provide an environment free from discrimination, sexual harassment and personal harassment.”

Faculty association unhappy

Mehta would not comment Friday about whether he plans to sue the university.

The Acadia University Faculty Association said in a release it plans to take Mehta’s dismissal to arbitration.

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

Originally published on cbc.ca/news by Mairin Prentiss on September 7, 2018