Allard halts hiring following concerns about donor’s alleged complicity in human rights abuses

The Allard School of Law has halted the hiring process for a new faculty position created by an alumnus’ donation, after another alumnus expressed concerns about the principal donor’s alleged complicity in violating international law.

The Allard School of Law announced on August 23 that it has accepted a $500,000 donation from alumnus Stuart “Tookie” Angus and his wife to create a faculty position in law and corporate social responsibility. This donation would then be matched by funding from Allard Faculty Recruitment and Retention endowment.

Since then, concerns have been raised over Angus’ prior associations with mining companies that have faced allegations of violating international law, which led the school to pause the position’s hiring. In particular, Allard School of Law alumnus Hamish Stewart expressed this concern in a letter to The Ubyssey.

“The history of this small sample of companies that Tookie has led raises a number of questions: is this the type of money the UBC Faculty of Law should be accepting on behalf of the UBC student and alumni community?” reads Stewart’s letter.

“Is the potential association with gross violations of international human rights law worth it?”

Graduated from the Allard School of Law in 1973, Angus is the former board director of Nevsun Resources Ltd, a Canadian mining company that is currently facing lawsuits in the Supreme Court of Canada for alleged violations of international human rights law.

In November 2014, four Eritrean mine workers have claimed that Nevsun was complicit in the use of forced labour, slavery and torture in the construction of a mine in Eritrea. Nevsun has denied the allegations and is appealing the British Columbia Court of Appeals’ decision to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Nevsun did not respond to request for comment.

Currently, Angus is chairman of a number of mining companies including K92 Mining Inc., Kenadyr Mining (Holdings) Corp. and San Marco Resources Inc. He left his position at Nevsun in 2017.

Nevsun is not the only company that Angus has been on the board of that has faced allegations of human rights abuse. The United Nations issued a report in 2002, which accuses First Quantum Minerals of collusion and paying out Congolese officials for mining licenses and export permits. Angus was a director of the company from 1997 to 2005.

As reported in a 2002 Globe and Mail article, First Quantum denied all allegations and asked the UN to retract them.

Allard School of Law Dean Catherine Dauvergne has now “decided to press ‘pause’ on hiring into this position.”

“Over the past few weeks I have sought the views of members of the university community and from others who support the law school beyond the campus,” she wrote in a statement issued internally and shared with The Ubyssey on October 1.

“I want to take the time to reflect on the concerns that were shared with me before considering next steps. I continue to be very grateful for the donor’s ongoing commitment and support of the law school.”

Stewart described the pause a “textbook public relations move.”

“It looks bad, as alumni looking at it. Taking money from people whose companies are alleged to have been complicit in the commission of crimes against humanity — that’s what slavery is,” he said. “This looks like a fairly typical public relations exercise where somebody’s reputation is in a challenging situation. They’ll usually do something like this to improve their reputation. I guess that’s what bothered me about it.”

He also called for more public discussion on the matter.

“They’re running some kind of post facto consultation with faculty and staff about whether they think it’s appropriate — but they’ve taken the money,” Stewart said. “Is UBC’s reputation worth $500,000?”

When asked whether halting the hiring process for the position also means declining the donation, UBC responded, “Pausing the hiring for this professorship means that all options will still remain available to the school’s leadership.”

Angus could not be reached for comment following requests to K92 Mining Inc, Kenadyr Mining (Holdings) Corp. and San Marco Resources Inc.

This article has been updated to correct a quote from Stewart to reflect that the allegation about complicity in human rights abuse has not been proven in court.