UCP appointee and donor says he aims to end "liberal indoctrination" at the University of Alberta

A 2021 appointee to the University of Alberta senate who has pledged to end “liberal indoctrination” donated more than $20,000 to conservative political parties from 2016 to 2021 and sat on the board of his local UCP constituency association.

Demetrios Nicolaides, the UCP minister for Advanced Education, appointed Kalynchuk to the University of Alberta senate this year.

Conservative, business owner, and advocate,” reads Gary Kalynchuk’s list of qualifications under his name on the University of Alberta senate website

Kalynchuk, whose three-year term expires in July 2024, was one of nine senators appointed by former minister of advanced education Demetrios Nicolaides to the 55-person senate. 

The year before his senate appointment, Kalynchuk was appointed to the provincial government’s Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations for a three-year term. 

Under the Post-Secondary Learning Act, only “comprehensive academic and research universities,” meaning those with graduate programs, have a senate, of which there are three in Alberta — U of A, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge. 

A university’s senate elects a post-secondary institution’s chancellor and is expected “to inquire into any matter that might benefit the university and enhance its position in the community.”

It has the power to order reports “on any matter from any faculty or school council, the council of the students association, the council of the graduate students association and any member of the academic staff of the university,” and to make recommendations to the board of governors based on these reports. 

Kalynchuk, an engineer who is a senior project manager with Enbridge, has been a prolific donor to the UCP and its Wildrose forerunner, donating $15,705.50 to the two parties since 2016, according to Elections Alberta disclosures

In 2021, Kalynchuk donated $4,243 to the UCP — the maximum amount allowable at the time. 

For the 2019 election, he donated $2,300 to the UCP and $1,000 to Edmonton-McClung UCP candidate Laurie Mozeson. 

Kalynchuk contributed $1,500 to the Edmonton-McClung UCP constituency association and gave $1,312.50 to the Edmonton-Whitemud UCP constituency association in 2018.

In 2016 and the first half of 2017 — before the UCP’s formation — Kalynchuk donated a total of $5,350 to the Wildrose Party. 

Additionally, according to the Investigative Journalism Foundation’s database of political donations, Kalynchuk donated a total of $4,790 to the Edmonton West Conservative Association from 2017 to 2020. 

His son, Nicholas Kalynchuk, ran for the UCP in 2023 as a sacrificial lamb in the Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood riding, where incumbent NDP MLA Janis Irwin received 72% of the vote

Gary Kalynchuk posts frequently on LinkedIn, where his display name includes a parenthetical “Conservative/Albertan/Canadian.” 

I plan to introduce innovative thinking and reverse the liberal indoctrination of this University,” he posted upon his July 2021 appointment to the U of A senate.

In a 2021 post expressing support for embattled former premier Jason Kenney, he identified himself as a “proud board member of the UCP Edmonton McClung Board [sic].” 

In April 2023, he shared a National Post op-ed, headlined “Doug Ford must eliminate wokeness from Ontario school boards,” accompanied by Kalynchuk’s commentary: “Alberta needs to do the same, including our Universities and Technical Schools.”

He’s also called for “some firings and resignations” at the University of Lethbridge after a talk from disgraced former Mount Royal University professor Frances Widdowson was shut down by Indigenous students and the government that appointed him announced it would be imposing “free speech” mandates on post-secondary schools. 

Speaking explicitly as a U of A senator, he demanded David Suzuki’s honourary degree, which Suzuki received in 2019, be revoked “immediately.” 

Kalnychuk called striking Concordia University of Edmonton faculty “entitled union spoiled brats” after their union reached a deal with administration in early 2022. 

In response to a LinkedIn message requesting comment, Kalynchuk asked for further information about this news outlet. He didn’t respond to further correspondence. 

Kalynchuk was appointed in the midst of two years of brutal cuts to post-secondary institutions across Alberta, with University of Alberta being hit the hardest. From the 2019/2020 school year to 2021/22, U of A lost 20 per cent of its operational funding.

“Our university faces a landscape like never before — one featuring complex pressures, limited resources and questions about the value post-secondary institutions bring to the community,” the U of A senate’s 2021-2025 strategic plan reads. “Against this backdrop, Senate [sic] has an important role to play in creating and sustaining an effective bridge between the University of Alberta and the society it serves.”

The Ministry of Advanced Education didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.