The Fraser Institute’s idea of academic freedom isn’t quite like yours or mine

Yesterday there was a bit of a Twitter fight between Kevin Milligan, Professor of Economics at UBC, and whoever runs the Fraser Institute’s Twitter account. Basically Professor Milligan noted the Niels Veldhuis’s poor grasp of statistics was grounds for promotion at the Institute (having recently been named President).

This is all based on Veldhuis’s defense of axing the long-form census last summer, something that was opposed by the overwhelming majority of think-tanks across the ideological spectrum, as well as business and community groups. Here’s but one critique.

Sometimes the discussion wasn’t very polite. I understand “toadlicking suckups” might have been said by one party, and “Krugmanesque shrillness” (My god, pass the smelling salts!) by another. Oops. Professor Milligan later apologized for some of the more colourful terms:!/kevinmilligan/status/190576943085785088

So….what would you do if you were a libertarian think-thank committed to freedom as well as being an equal opportunity workplace for the differently living?

Okay. Hmm…I wonder what “Sierra Rayne” has to say that’s so good about this that it justified a shout out by the Fraser Institute?

What a disgraceful public performance by a civil servant. This level of behavior should be grounds for immediate disciplinary action by UBC against Milligan – provided the post-secondary system had any accountability and basic standards for public behavior by academics (which, it sadly appears it does not). One could imagine how a professor from a major North American university publicly attacking the credibility of a private sector think-tank could negatively affect the current and future cash flows of said think-tank. Why should taxpayers be on the financial line for such irresponsible behavior as Milligan displayed?

Yes, won’t someone please think of the donors.

Although I have a hunch that for the Fraser Institute’s secretive group of donors, Niels Veldhuis’s grasp of statistics is a feature, not a bug.

UPDATE: Kevin Milligan has written a full recounting of his criticism of Veldhuis.


UPDATE 3: Welcome Gazetteers!



  1. Norman Farrell

    Of course, the Fraser Institute is a private sector ‘research’ organization that takes money from uber-rich folks, corps and foreign foundations. Most contributions are treated as charitable contributions that give rise to tax credits or fees that result in tax deductions as business costs. Were CRA to actually apply the laws prohibiting political activity as written, Fraser Institute would have a lot less money to carry on its defence of Canada’s most privileged.