U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Is Allan Rock disregarding the law in the Rancourt academic freedom case? – OLRB complaint filed

University of Ottawa president Allan Rock is the Responding Party in an Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) Application filed by former physics professor Denis Rancourt (OLRB File No. 2567-10-U).

The OLRB is the judicial body charged with enforcing labour law (the Labour Relations Act) in Ontario, Canada.

In the period around January 2009 when the Rock administration was executing its political dismissal of dissident professor Rancourt, more than one hundred students and community members and many professors wrote to Allan Rock to protest the planned dismissal. [See “Letters of Support” top-menu-item on THIS web page.]

Allan Rock responded the same way to all or most of the letter writers as, for example:

On 7-Jan-09, at 12:14 PM, Allan Rock wrote to James Douglas:

Thank you for your recent message.

The relationship between the University and its faculty members, including Professor Rancourt, is governed by a collective agreement.

In all of its dealings with Professor Rancourt, the University has complied strictly with the terms of that collective agreement, and will continue to do so.

Professor Rancourt has due process and opportunities for recourse through this collective agreement and his union.

Kind regards,
Allan Rock

Contrary to his thus stated personal commitment to the community, Allan Rock has repudiated the collective agreement by refusing to process three recent labour law grievances on particularly sensitive matters:
  • executing a direct interference with research academic freedom in the area of climate change physics (link to grievance G26),
  • fabricating false concerns about the professor’s “physical and mental well-being” (link to grievance G27)

Rancourt has made the OLRB Application and Allan Rock’s Response to the Board public HERE.

Rancourt’s OLRB Application is rigorously constructed and shows an unacceptable violation of the professor’s rights (LINK).

In contrast, the OLRB Response filed for Rock by his lawyers of the Emond Harnden LLP law firm [Lynn Harnden, photo] is confused, contradictory, and tenuous (LINK).

For example, the Response contains the following.

- It argues that the complaint has no merit and should be summarily dismissed by the Board, that Rock is not personally linked to any of the facts of the case, then goes on to provide 83 pages of response and supporting documents.

- It argues that the three grievances cannot be received because they were filed after Rancourt was fired, yet the University received the dismissal grievance (G24) which was filed after the dismissal.

- It does not seem to matter with the geniuses at Emond Harnden LLP or with Rock that the alleged violations in the three grievances occurred while Rancourt was a tenured professor but were only discovered or confirmed later, as explicitly foreseen by the collective agreement.

- Nor does it seem to matter that the collective agreement is written in English (and also in French) since Rock and his lawyers take the position: “the Responding Party disagrees with all of the legal conclusions and arguments made by the Applicant”.

- Rock and his lawyers argue that the OLRB is not the proper venue for the complaint, that they are not repudiating or disregarding the law, but that instead this should be viewed as “a difference in interpretation” of the law that should be handled by filing a grievance. We’re not making this up...: The OLRB complaint in which Rock refuses to process collective agreement grievances because they were filed after Rancourt’s dismissal should be handled by a new collective agreement grievance... Ah hum.

- Rock and his lawyers go on to state that letters where the university contradicted itself or changed its position (as in from white to black) were simply not contradictions: “The Responding Party denies its emails … were contradictory as alleged.” OKey… so saying you will process a grievance and later saying you will not process the grievance is not contradicting yourself. Alright then let’s see how that actually works in a hearing?

- The case law that Rock and his lawyers put forth to argue that Rock, the CEO of University of Ottawa Inc., was not involved in any material way is one where a company where the alleged violations took place could not be shown to be a subsidiary of the accused company. Just seems like a bit of a stretch to this non-lawyer…?
And it just goes on like that without ever addressing the substantive arguments made by Rancourt. That’s law? Do they normally win by bullying or what?

A cynical analyst might conclude that these lawyers know a secret; that logic and meaning carry little weight at the OLRB? Hopefully, that is not the case. Hopefully a Board hearing is nothing like parliament.

1 comment:

Peter Biesterfeld said...

Unbelievable. Institutional bullying is alive and well. The great Canadian national past-time. Just like hockey, full body contact.