By Arnold August,
Published on The Canada Files, Dec 12, 2022:
The Canada Files can reveal that Ukrainian Université de Montréal student Katerina Sviderskaya obtained a grant worth thousands of dollars from Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND), four months before she jointly led, alongside Canada’s government funded French-language outlet Radio Canada (RDI) reporter Romain Schué, the campaign to have sanctions applied against Université de Montréal professor and respected USSR-Russia expert Michael J. Carley.
On November 24, 2021, Sviderskaya received a $6,488.78 grant from the Canadian DND’s Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) program to complete an analysis of “Russian-style informational warfare” focused on the “conflict in Ukraine”. The grant is titled “Russian-style information warfare: the conflict in Ukraine” and the grant funding given out was meant to cover the analysis work up until November 24, 2022.
The MINDS program is part of Canada’s DND which according to its own website, “supports the Canadian Armed Forces who serve on the sea, on land, and in the air with the Navy, Army, Air Force and Special Forces to defend Canadians’ interests at home and abroad.” Why is this revelation important?
The Anti-Carley Petition that Fizzled Out
Close to one month after Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, on March 23, 2022, Canada’s government funded French-language outlet Radio Canada (RDI) published an article by one of its journalists, Romain Schué. The headline (translated from the French) is “Unease at Université de Montréal: Pro-Putin Professor Defends the Russian Invasion.” The piece is based on two sources. Firstly, there is a series of tweets by Carley himself on the war, taken out of context. Secondly, Schué’s sources consist of anonymous comments by some professors and students at the university. At the same time, the article completely ignores the extensive work and research by this specialist on the Soviet Union and Russia. Professor Carley is the author of three books, some 100 articles and essays, over 115 book chapters, while his articles having been the recipient of some 15 awards. His works have been published in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Russia and elsewhere, and translated into a dozen languages. Romain Schué then announced the apparently key fact that Carley had been removed from CÉRIUM, the Centre for International Studies and Research at the Université de Montréal. What the actual significance of this is for those who wanted Carley sanctioned, is dealt with below in an exclusive interview with Professor Samir Saul, also at Université de Montréal.
Enter Ukrainian Université de Montréal student Katerina Sviderskaya, who in March 2022 initiated a petition asking for Professor Carley’s sanction and removal, while she was being funded by DND. There may or may not be a direct connection between the funding and the petition, which does not constitute an expense. However, Sviderskaya must have been very confident in taking on the university and attacking a tenured professor while enjoying the backing of Ottawa. View the petition, translated from French:
Title: Michael J. Carley, purveyor of pro‐Putin propaganda at Université de Montréal. It reads, “In the article by Romain Schué, published on March 23, 2022 at 12:37 p.m. by Radio‐Canada, titled ‘Unrest at Université de Montreal, a pro‐Putin professor defends the Russian invasion,’ reference is made to Mr. Michael Jabara Carley, working in the History Department of the Université de Montréal as a full professor.” The petition then repeats the accusations against Carley. It is addressed to the Rector of the University, the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Directors of the History and Political Sciences departments.
The petition concludes: “Therefore, considering that Mr. Michael Jabara Carley has deliberately misled hundreds, if not thousands, of students and members of the scientific community with regard to the war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine since 2014 [sic] and which was greatly expanded on February 24, 2022, he is liable to reprimand, suspension or dismissal from the Université de Montréal.” Full English version of petition (here).
North American mainstream media pick up witch-hunt against Professor Carley, but petition fails miserably
Other mainstream media not only in Canada, but also in the US, picked up the ‘“pro-Putin” Carley affair witch hunt,’ all highlighting the Sviderskaya petition. On March 23, 2022, Canada’s main French-language daily La Presse published an article consisting of Schué talking points, with the predominant headline being based on the petition: “Sanctions demanded against a pro-Russian professor.” It continued, “…that faced with the university’s ‘inaction,’ Katia Sviderskaya and another student have launched a petition demanding sanctions against Michael J. Carley. She has collected more than 150 signatures [March 23], including from many students of Ukrainian descent” (translated from the French).
The Globe and Mail, one of the main English-language dailies in Canada, promoted the petition with the headline: “Two University of Montreal students have launched a petition against a long-time history professor over ‘shocking’ comments he made on social media that supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” The March 27, 2022 article conveys the image of the petition being massively signed in order to build up momentum with the very first sentence: “The petition, which had received more than 175 signatures by Sunday (March 27) evening.”
Another important French-language daily, Le Journal de Montréal, also promoted the petitioner.
The important American outlet Newsweek carried an article entitled “Montreal Professor’s Support of Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Prompts Student Petition,” followed by another attempt to build up momentum by asserting that “the petition has received more than 260 signatures [March 28] so far.”
In the media articles featuring Sviderskaya, no acknowledgements of the grant funding she received from the Canadian defence ministry’s MINDS program were ever included, before the release of this article. Sviderskaya didn’t reply to this author’s question: did she ever inform the media of the grant funding she was receiving.
With all this vigorous promotion and hype for the petition internationally, even if the original petition was in French, readers of the English-language press in the US and Canada had sufficient knowledge to sign it. Moreover, anyone in the world could sign, as demonstrated by this signee from San Francisco, California.
There were many other signees from Europe and even Japan. However, what has been the result? The petition fell flat on its face. It was a fiasco. From the “already” 150 to 260 signatures reported in March 2022 (creating an atmosphere of energy and strength), here is where it stands now on December 9, 2022. It has recruited 804 signatures close to nine months after it was initiated with full backing by mainstream media and Sviderskaya, the petitioner and beneficiary of a Canadian Department of National Defence grant. Even the petition’s self-evaluation notes that at least 1,000 signatures are needed to have any impact.
It is therefore nothing more than a lame duck. This conclusion is all the more obvious since the petition page posted by Sviderskaya was taken down when we last tried to access it on December 11, 2022. However, it was posted again since she received the letter (see below) from us indicating our intention to go public with the story. Here is a screen shot of that page, the text translated from the French:
“Thank you for defending intellectual rigor within our university and for denouncing any behavior that goes against this principle. Thank you for fighting pro-Putin propaganda within the University of Montreal.
Please sign this petition!
Michael J. Carley, vector of pro-Putin propaganda at Université de Montreal
If one clicks on her link, it is now available, but this author is blocked from viewing Sviderskaya’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/210998542296116/user/100001695406994/
Interview: A Look at the “Carley Affair” from Within the University Faculty
Keep in mind the claim by journalist Romain Schué that Professor Carley was removed from CÉRIUM (Centre for International Studies and Research, Université de Montréal) as being significant and an indication that other sanctions against him would surely follow.
Samir Saul. Full Professor, History Department, Université de Montréal. Interview for The Canada Files, December 11, 2022.
Arnold August: What was Professor Carley’s academic status before the March 2022 event [Romain Schué’s RDI article]?
Samir Saul: Carley was a full professor before March 2022, as he is now. He was also Chair of the Department of History at the Université de Montréal (2007-2014) and a researcher at CÉRIUM. The status of researcher at CÉRIUM is optional and secondary. Some professors are registered there, others are not. This has no impact on their employment at the Université de Montréal or on their activities. A professor is an employee of the university, not of CÉRIUM. Carley’s primary function is to be a history professor, not a researcher at CERIUM.
AA: Was he teaching during the winter 2022 semester?
SS: No, because he was on sabbatical in 2021-2022. Sabbatical is a right tenured faculty may exercise to periodically not teach classes in order to focus on research and writing.
AA: These are the courses he teaches:
HST2296 – World War II
HST2297 – History of the Cold War
HST3259 – International Relations: USSR and Russia
HST6701 – The USSR/Russia and the West, 1917 to the present.
Is this correct?
SS: Yes, these are the courses he teaches.
AA: Is there anything you can add regarding these academic capabilities and activities at the University prior to March 2022?
SS: Carley is a recognized scholar of World War II history with numerous scholarly publications to his credit. He devotes all of his time to his teaching, research and publications.
AA: How did his expulsion from CERIUM occur?
SS: We learned in the Radio-Canada [Schué in RDI] article that “His name has moreover been removed from the list of member researchers at CÉRIUM.” Carley had not been notified (he learned of this from the article) and it is not known by what process this “removal” was carried out. Carley was not contacted or given a hearing beforehand.
I stress that this “removal” is insignificant. It is not necessary to be a member of CÉRIUM and Carley was not even active there. He conducted his teaching and research career independently of CÉRIUM. None of his publications have been produced with the help of CÉRIUM, and he has not associated CÉRIUM with any of his publications. The sudden public announcement in the article was primarily to fuel the campaign against him and to induce his employer (Université de Montréal) to sanction him. The employer refused because it is obliged to defend the right to freedom of speech of members of the university community.
AA: Has there been any other pressure put on Professor Carley since March 2022?
SS: In March 2022, a Ukrainian student started a petition against him.
AA: Will Carley be able to resume teaching in the next sessions despite the pressure on the Université de Montréal, if he so desires?
SS: He will resume teaching as scheduled. The university has an official policy of respecting the right to freedom of speech (as an integral part of academic freedom) and, as of this year, Quebec’s new Bill 32 on academic freedom requires that this right be respected.
AA: What were the differing, and perhaps opposing, reactions of other History Department faculty to Carley’s treatment by RDI and his expulsion from CERIUM?
SS: Last March, some History Department faculty members came under pressure from people who blamed them for being associated with Carley (which is ridiculous because faculty are independent and not responsible for what their colleagues say or do) and urged them to condemn him so as to “dissociate” themselves from him.
AA: You recently co-authored an article with Michel Seymour (Université de Montréal) entitled: “What is at stake in Ukraine is the future of globalized capitalism.” This is a serious issue. Do you think this potential game-changing challenge to the global status quo is part of the reason why RDI has abandoned any semblance of objectivity regarding Ukraine and Carley?
SS: This challenge explains why most of the “mainstream” Western media relentlessly delivers the same one-sided viewpoint and partisan “narratives.”
AA: It has come to our attention that the author of the petition against Carley received a Canadian government (National Defence) grant of $6,488.78 for the period Nov. 24, 2021 to Nov. 24, 2022 (which included March 2022) on the topic of “Russian-style informational warfare: the conflict in Ukraine.”
Are you surprised? What is your point of view?
SS: I was not aware of this, and I did not know this person. Her statements showed that she had no understanding of freedom of speech and that her concern was to muzzle and convict those who did not think like her. She had a lot to learn.
Readers can reach their own conclusions. Professor Saul demolishes the notion that Carley’s removal from CÉRIUM represents some sort of victory in Sviderskaya’s petition to have him dismissed from the university, support from media and State actors notwithstanding. From another angle, it confirms the petition was totally ineffective since it could go no further than the insignificant fact of Carley’s removal CÉRIUM. In fact, the whole CÉRIUM episode proved to be a red herring.
Indeed, the underhanded way in which Carley was removed by the CÉRIUM Director, with tentative support from some like-minded individuals, was proof that only a minority in the university community could be called upon to criticize him, despite the backing of the powerful media and the State. The outcome for Carley’s cause has thus been positive, and he has won the battle of freedom of expression. It is a source of pride for those of us who have confidence in the progressive nature of the Quebecois students and faculty in the social sciences.
Did The Original Canada Files Article on the “Carley Affair” Contribute to the Petition Debacle?
Following the publication of the first TCF article on May 9, we received a series of positive reviews. For more than a month that article, published in both English and French, as well as the mostly bilingual reviews, were sent to all journalists of the six outlets in Quebec, Canada and the US that jumped on what they wrongly perceived as the anti-Carley bandwagon.
In addition, we reached out to professional journalist associations, an RDI program pompously called Décrypteurs (or Code-busters) “dedicated to opposing disinformation,” as well as other Quebecois journalists.
Did this persistent activity contribute to the stand-off whereby the university did not dare to sanction Carley? It is hard to say. Yet, judging from the reaction of some journalists, we apparently did get under their skin. For example, one of the Décrypteurs journalists replied to this author’s email, with Cc to all members of their staff, in this fashion (translated from French).
Attack on Freedom of Expression Targets Montreal Professor
Hello Mr. August,
We have received your many messages on this subject. Please do not send any more to us.
So, why did they not only refuse to engage in debate with those who are on the “other side” of the “Carley Affair,” to the extent of not even wanting to receive this author’s emails? Could it be that in their subconscious awareness they feel that the witch hunt against Carley is unjustified, but would rather keep silent to retain their positions as journalists requiring the full unquestionable adherence to the US-Canada-NATO narrative against Russia? They did not write to us explaining why they refused to deal with the “Carley Affair” and disinformation, even though (or perhaps because) journalist Romain Schué who led the defamatory piece of disinformation against the professor is an RDI colleague.
Do they no longer wish to be reminded by our emails that they are in such a dilemma, of not being capable of squarely facing what we have to say? Did the journalist not even see the irony in his response to our last email (see the bottom of the screen shot above) that it contained a review of this author’s article by an author who is an expert on the very epitome of disinformation, i.e. World War II fascism. Suzanne Weiss is a holocaust survivor who wrote a book about it and has devoted her life to fighting this type of disinformation, that does indeed pave the way to fascism. Her review of the original Carley affair article can be read here in English.
The only other reaction that our email blitz provoked was by another young Quebecois journalist, Patrick Lagacé (translated from the French), who laconically wrote:
“If academic freedom is worth anything, he needn’t be worried.”
Sviderskaya’s Reaction to Our Offer to Publish Her Rebuttal on the Defence Department Grant
In March 2022, it seemed strange that a student would have the confidence and bravura to demand that the university sanction one of its faculty members, to the extent of having him dismissed. However, today it seems the answer may lie in the recent revelation that the Canadian Defence Department, now fully involved with the US/NATO war in Ukraine, was actually funding the petitioner, Sviderskaya.
The Canada Files reached out via Sviderskaya’s Messenger box as well as her email address, by sending the following letter to get her side of the story. This is the English version:
My name is Arnold August, from Montreal. I’m a Contributing Editor with The Canada Files (TCF). I would like to ask you a few questions for an article.
TCF has learned that you have received a grant from the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) program. The funding, $6,488 Canadian dollars to be exact, was awarded for the project “Russian-style informational warfare: the conflict in Ukraine,” which began on November 24, 2021 and ended on November 24, 2022.
In March 2022, as a Université de Montréal student while on a MINDS fellowship, you became the leading figure in the call for sanctions against Université de Montréal Professor Michael J. Carley for his alleged pro-Putin stance.
Why was the funding you received from the MINDS program not disclosed by you in your press appearances, after you spoke out against Carley, beginning in late March 2022?
Did you inform Université de Montréal of the funding you received from the MINDS program while advocating for sanctions against Carley?
This note serves as an official request from The Canada Files for a comment on our story. TCF will publish this article on Friday, December 9 at 6 pm. If you would like to comment, please respond by Wednesday December 7, 6 pm.
December 5, 2022
Sviderskaya did not avail herself of the opportunity to provide her side of the story. However, she did read this letter. On Facebook Messenger, we can see her profile picture on the bottom right confirming that she had read it.
Sviderskaya never answered. But she did block this author on her Facebook page.
Sviderskaya raising funds in Canada to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces
This refusal to comment provoked curiosity. Is there something else to be hidden? TCF obtained screen shots of her activities on Facebook. They are very revealing.
Not only did she take funding from Canada’s defence ministry, but she is also raising funds in Canada for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. What is United24, which she mentions above?
“Defence and demining” includes 1,474 drones, 100 drone training courses, but only one demining machine. Thus, in addition to obtaining a grant from the Canadian Department of National Defence, she is also raising funds for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, while the “credibility” for her demand for sanctions against Carley is being provided by the Canadian government through its state-funded RDI outlet and its journalist Romain Schué. Should the Professional Federation of Quebec Journalists have anything to say about this evident conflict of interest?
For the Record: The Canadian Defence Department & Their MINDS Program Also Had a Chance to Reply
The following letter was sent to the Canadian Department of National Defence, Media Relations Office, MLO-BLM:
They have not replied. An email seeking comment from the MINDS program specifically was also sent; no reply was ever received.
The Canadian defence department grant to Sviderskaya for “Informational Warfare”
In an unexpected way, the Canadian Government has it right on Ukraine: “informational warfare” is indeed the crux of the issue. But where should Quebecois and Canadians stand? For example, on Sviderskaya’s Facebook page, we were able to find a startling statement that perhaps explains why she did not want this to be analyzed as part of the expose of the Department of National Defence grant:
“Ukraine was, and is, and always will be center of the free world,” writes Sviderskaya. We can recall, last March 2022, how the Schué-Sviderskaya duo attempted to ridicule Carley by truncating his tweets and deliberately obscuring by omission the long decades of his work on the USSR and Russia:
“Russian troops are fighting ‘the Fascists’ in Ukraine. ‘The evacuation of civilians’ is being blocked by ‘Azov’s troops,’ the Fascists.’ ‘The horror of fascism in Ukraine is becoming more and more obvious.’ ‘The Donbas and Mariupol are being cleansed of Ukrainian Nazis.’”
Nine months later, serious analysts, from a wide spectrum of political views in many of the NATO countries and elsewhere, confirm that the “horror of fascism in Ukraine is not only becoming more and more obvious,” it is now indisputable.
This author, writing on his own behalf and not Carley’s, whom he’s never met, the informational war being waged by the Schué-Sviderskaya team with backing from the Canadian state, is based on outright lies to hide the existence of Nazis in Ukraine while, ironically, employing the dictum of Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels: “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”
The “massacre of Bucha” is but one example of many outright falsities being spun on Ukraine by NATO and Western mainstream media, as exposed here. Mariupol hospital is another: “Interview with Marianna Vyshemirskaya – There was no air strike on Mariupol Maternity Ward 3.”
The Canadian government is more than willing to use taxpayers’ money to finance the informational war against Putin, the Russian people and any Canadian citizen who does not regurgitate the NATO narrative on Ukraine. Lies are the foundation of the “Carley Affair.” A key ingredient is the Sviderskaya assertion that “Ukraine was, and is, and always will be center of the free world,” a ludicrous claim if it was not being employed to advance the very serious warmongering interests of the NATO bloc.
Arnold August is a Contributing Editor and Advisory Board member for The Canada Files. August is a Montreal-based author of 3 books on US-Cuba-Latin America. As an award-winning journalist, he publishes in English, Spanish & French on several continents, collaborates with, among others, teleSurTV, Cuban TV, Press TV Iran, Radio Sputnik in Washington DC and Friends of Socialist China. He is a member of the International Manifesto Group, The General Gathering in Support of the Choice of Resistance (Palestine/Beirut) and Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) Solidarity Network (US). He has been a strong critic of Canadian foreign policy for several decades, especially since the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.”
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