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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

BREAKING NEWS::: Student Marc Kelly wins trespass trial - Cops, University, Crown were wrong

[Photo: Marc Kelly through the window of the SFUO-SAC office just before Ottawa Police barged in to arrest him.]

OTTAWA, December 14, 2010: Marc Kelly court decision released - victory for students and for student sovereignty over student space.

The February 2, 2010, campus arrests of mathematics-physics student Marc Kelly and student union president Seamus Wolfe at the University of Ottawa were depicted in two popular Youtube videos (HERE, HERE) and were reported in the national media HERE.

(The videos were made by student University Senate member Joseph Hickey.)

By using a student union lawyer to bargain for diversion (community service), Wolfe effectively admitted guilt to the false-arrest charge of "disturbing the peace by swearing" for saying "fuck face" under his breath to the Ottawa Police sergeant on the scene (Sgt. Mallet) who had overseen the false-arrest of Kelly.
Kelly pleaded not guilty, went to trial self-represented against the Crown, the cops, the University, and University Legal Counsel Alain Roussy who attended the entire trial, and won in a precedent-setting ruling released today by judge L. Girault at the Provincial Offenses Court in Ottawa, Ontario.
The charge was trespass despite the fact that Kelly was in the Student Appeal Centre (SAC) office of the student union consulting on the University's illegitimate trespass order against him.

The scholarship student had previously been unilaterally de-registered from his study program and exiled from campus without justification (HERE) by a vindictive administration that did not take kindly to Kelly's well known (and TV-broadcast) direct appeal to president Allan Rock, revealing Rock to be verbally abusive (HERE).

The ruling establishes what should have been obvious to Roussy (or co-Counsel Kathryn Prud'homme, who informed the police otherwise) that the student union, the Student Federation University of Ottawa (SFUO), not the University is the legal occupier of SFUO offices.

Indeed, Roussy and Prud'homme were in the possession of an agreement between the SFUO and the University of Ottawa, signed at the highest university level (VP-Resources), which explicitly stated that the SFUO was the legal occupier. (Arguably the SFUO still owns the University Centre!)

The main part of the trial had been held on December 2, 2010, where an impressive array of large men and women in and out of bullet proof vests testified or were present to testify against Kelly:
  • Claude Giroux, campus police chief
  • D. Levesque, Ottawa Police
  • Nicholas Lavoie, campus police
  • Ryan Macdonald, campus police
  • Alexander Macpherson, campus police
  • Brian Vissers, spy camera coordinator, university
  • Nathalie Charlebois, lead investigator, campus police
  • Sgt. Mallet, Ottawa Police (not present on Dec.2nd)
In addition, Roussy attended the trial and consulted with Crown lawyer Bruce Lee-Shanok, and dean of the Faculty of Science Andre E. Lalonde had been subpoenaed but was on call in lieu of showing.

Lalonde had spotted Kelly in the SAC office on February 2nd and, apparently recognizing the significant and immediate danger to the institution, had called campus security presumably in a panic.

The behaviours of Roussy/Prud'homme and Lalonde were unprofessional but so was that of Ottawa Police.

The Ottawa Police consulted only Roussy/Prud'homme and disregarded the the clear and repeated legal occupancy information provided to them by SAC Director Mireille Gervais (a law graduate), SFUO President Seamus Wolfe and teacher assistant union (CUPE Local 2626) President Sean Kelly (see video). Ottawa Police then told the SFUO president they would wait for him to produce the rental contract of the office space and then five minutes later (see video) forced their way into the SAC office without a warrant and arrested Kelly.

After that, you wonder why they didn't also knee him in the thigh repeatedly and strip search him?

In addition, Constable D. Levesque of Ottawa Police blatantly lied under oath at the December 2nd trial hearing. He said he had an excellent memory of the events and that he had most definitely watched the Youtube video but that he himself had not asked for the rental contract (see 54 seconds into the video when he clearly asks Wolfe for the rental contract). Levesque added that if he had received the contract he would have reconsidered the arrest but that he had already waited (he inferred from his notes) approximately 29 minutes (see video, less than 5 minutes passed between asking for the contract and the decision to arrest). One wonders what Constable Levesque's testimony would be like if he did not have an "excellent" memory additionally supported by an unedited Youtube video that he watched?

At trial Judge L. Girault refused to look at the video that Kelly repeatedly asked to show to the court and that would have established the many improper actions of the police and Levesque's perjury.

If judges don't show initiative in examining police behaviour then students on campuses will continue to be mistreated by Ottawa's finest only too happy to serve the Rock administration.

Nonetheless, Kelly's closing arguments (delivered after he was arrested in court at lunch recess on December 2nd on unrelated charges of failing to appear in court!) were sharp and legalistic, leaving the court little room to find him guilty.

This case is precedent setting: The SFUO is the legal occupier of its premises. You can thank Marc Kelly.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dean of science will step down at end of academic year

It was announced internally (see below) by Allan Rock that the dean of the Faculty of Science, Andre E. Lalonde, will step down at the end of the university academic year.

Lalonde was the dean who accepted to participate in the University of Ottawa administration's coordinated campaign under Allan Rock to dismiss tenured physics professor Denis Rancourt.

The campaign was ordered by Allan Rock, largely coordinated by then VP-Academic Robert Major, and involved regular meetings and communications with hired corporate lawyers, University Legal Counsel, several VPs, several deans, several department chairpersons, retired professor Raymond St-Jacques hired as a consultant, human resources bosses, the director of the Marketing Services and Communications Office, and several administrative assistants.

By contrast, workplace procedures foresee an independent investigation by an independent dean (the dean of Science for a physics professor) who would write his own letters.

In a public report about the Rancourt dismissal, academic workplace expert Professor Kenneth Westhues called it an "administrative mobbing". See the Westhues report HERE.

Lalonde will go back to being a regular professor.

The announcement comes in the midst of a large Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) adjudication involving Lalonde (LINK) and after he was found by UofOWatch to have lied in his dealings related to a previous IPC adjudication (LINK).

[2012-05-09 correction: In the paragraph above, "he was found to have lied in a previous IPC adjudication" has been corrected to "he was found by UofOWatch to have lied in his dealings related to a previous IPC adjudication".]

Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2010
Subject: Message from the President

After a full and successful five years in his position, Dean André E. Lalonde of the Faculty of Science has asked to be replaced as of July 1, 2011. Let me therefore take this occasion to thank him for his outstanding work and to remind you what a contribution he has made.

André E. Lalonde (BSc Honours ‘78) joined the Faculty in 1985 as a lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1986, granted tenure in 1990, promoted to associate professor in 1992 and then to full professor in 2001. In August 2006, he became the acting dean, a post he held until July 2007, when he was appointed dean. An accomplished geologist, he is one of the few people who can claim to have a mineral, lalondeite, named in his honour.

Dean Lalonde has presided over a period of growth and accomplishment in the Faculty. He has shown himself to be capable of handling the challenges of being a leader with the highest degree of professionalism, a "people person" who values and celebrates the contributions of all those he works with. He is responsible for hiring over 30 professors in his faculty. This includes 9 science lecturers involved in a highly successful pilot-project in science pedagogy, 5 Canada Research Chairs and world-renowned researchers such as Paul Corkum and Robert Boyd. Under his leadership, his faculty recently received over $35M in research funding from two major combined Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario Research Fund grants and a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Nonlinear Optics. He believes that science can be taught and researched in a fully bilingual setting, thus assuring the continued relevance of the French language in this field.

While we will miss his contributions as dean, we are happy that André Lalonde will be returning to the classroom, where he has achieved national recognition for his rapport with students, teaching mineralogy and geology in the Department of Earth Sciences. I know he's excited to be teaching once more, and students will be fortunate to have him as their professor, cultivating their love of the sciences.

A selection committee will soon be struck to hire a new dean for the Faculty.

Allan Rock
President and Vice-Chancellor

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Did the dean destroy records and lie in affidavit?

In an access to information (ATI) request dating back to 2008 the dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa, Andre E. Lalonde, was asked to produce all records (emails) about then professor of physics Denis Rancourt’s weekly Cinema Politica film and discussion series.

The series was opposed by the university administration and ran continuously during the academic year under Rancourt’s sponsorship between 2005 and 2009. Rancourt and student Marc Kelly were arrested by Ottawa Police at Cinema Politica on campus on January 23, 2009, as reported by the national media.

A legal appeal of the ATI case is presently under adjudication with the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of Ontario: IPC appeal No. PA08-97-2.

The ATI request and its adjudication have revealed the following.

First the dean would not respond pursuant to ATI law and the university had to be ordered by the IPC to immediately produce the records: IPC Order PO-2671.

Under order, the University responded with disclosed records on its imposed deadline of May 14, 2008.

Later, under appeal, the University was forced to perform three more searches for all the dean’s records relating to Cinema Politica. These are electronic searches using keywords and should be immediate yet each new search found significant numbers of new records which had not previously been found or released.

More disturbingly, the University and the dean claimed to have lost the records it had first disclosed, between May 14, 2008, and the launch of the IPC appeal, and claimed to be unable to find many of these records again via its three new and extensive searches.

The requester (Denis Rancourt) was able to identify twenty one (21) records that the University never found again. These were most sensitive records and involved the following correspondents (including the President, two VPs, Legal Counsel, the Human Resources boss, etc.):
  • Andrée Dumulon, Director, Communications Office, University Relations
  • Bela Joos, chairman of Physics
  • Gilles Patry, President
  • Julie Cafley, Executive Assistant to the President
  • Louise Page-Valin, Human Resources boss
  • Luciana Ion, Administrative Assistant, VP-Academic's office
  • Luciana Vaduva, Project Officer, Office of VP-Academic
  • Michelle Flaherty, University Legal Counsel
  • Paul Mercier, Computer Systems Manager and member of the Board of Governors
  • Raymond St-Jacques, retired professor and consultant
  • Richard Hodgson, former chairman of Physics
  • Robert Major, VP-Academic
  • Victor Simon, VP-Resources
How could the university lose these records while subject to an IPC investigation?

In the meantime the University tried to satisfy the IPC Adjudicator by providing an affidavit from dean Andre E. Lalonde.

The dean’s affidavit (dated August 30, 2010, HERE) states:
  • (point-2) that he has the practice of keeping all emails of interest to the University
  • (point-3) that he has never destroyed or lost any emails
  • (point-5) that in May 2008 (first batch) he searched his electronic emails
  • (point-7) that later in May 2008 he sent these to Legal Counsel (first batch)
  • (point-9, point-11) that in February and March 2009 he performed a far more extensive search of his same electronic emails
  • (point-12) that he was the sender or a recipient of all respondent records
The dean swears that no records were lost or destroyed and that the same electronic data bank was searched again (in 2009) far more extensively. Yet 21 highly sensitive records (list provided to the IPC) were not found.

At best the University and the dean are being disingenuous in advancing that they performed a reasonable search.

At worst the dean illegally destroyed respondent records and lied in affidavit.

The requester knows dean Lalonde to be very meticulous and careful with electronic data.

Since the later searches (2009) are reported to have been extensive and involved the additional on-site help of two other individuals specializing in ATI searches and since the 21 records in question are sensitive documents and represent almost one fifth of the records in the first (May 14, 2008) batch, we conclude that it is probable that the dean illegally destroyed respondent records and lied in affidavit.

The same dean has lied previously regarding a different ATI request, as publicly reported HERE.

The University was asked to comment or correct any information in the latter report and did not respond, except one respondent (Alain St-Amant, Chairman of Chemistry) who did not deny any of the elements in the report – see St-Amant’s response made public HERE.

It appears that lying to the IPC and disregarding ATI law may be a little too common in the Faculty of Science?

Monday, December 6, 2010

It took 163 years: U of O Senate to consider adopting rules of procedure

Until recently there has been no need for debate...

by Denis G. Rancourt

I attended a grand meeting of the Senate of the University of Ottawa today in Tabaret Hall, U of O campus, Ottawa, Canada. The Senate is the highest governing body on all academic matters by virtue of the University of Ottawa Act, 1965. The university was founded in 1848.

President Allan Rock was absent. VP-Academic Francois Houle (of Anne Coulter fame) presided. VP-Governance Diane Davidson attended by speaker phone from home.

Dean of the Faculty of Science Andre E. Lalonde came into the boardroom before the start of the proceedings just to say hello to me and then left and never came back; despite being slated to present the new Financial Mathematics and Economics Undergraduate Honours Program?

For several months now student member of Senate Joseph Hickey and others have been trying to clarify what the rules of procedure might be. Hickey reports this on his blog about U of O Senate (LINK).

The matter arose in part because Hickey believes that discussion on key points (such as the procedures for rewarding friends of the university administration with honorary degrees) is too often arbitrarily curtailed by the chair or allowed to be curtailed in order to pass items proposed by the administration.

In a previous discussion, when Houle stated that he would arbitrarily invoke Code Morin rules of procedure at will depending on the circumstances but not at other times, Hickey became particularly concerned.

Hickey and student Senate member Martin Schoots-McAlpine have been pressing the administration to state the rules of procedures for Senate.

Remarkably, no one in the institution knew if rules of procedure had ever been adopted by Senate or what the rules might be. A detailed search of the university archives had to be undertaken in preparation for today's meeting.

It appeared today that Hickey is making significant headway towards adoption of the novel idea that "Canada's university" (as the branding slogan goes) would have rules of procedure at Senate.

Davidson reported that the U of O Senate (back to 1930 according to Davidson) has never adopted rules of procedure.

Davidson further reported that she had thoroughly investigated the matter and found that all other university senates in her sample (in Canada) have written rules of procedure (surprise!), based on the Code Morin, Robert's Rules, other codes and often in-house adaptations of existing codes.

We conclude that the U of O really is unique. Hickey takes this to be a sign that there has never been debate at Senate (LINK).

Davidson's stated recommendation to Senate, based on her study, is the status quo - no written rules and the chair (the university president) decides. It's called "established practice" but nobody could remember what the practice had been, not even whether or not rules of order had even been adopted by Senate.

Davidson explained, and this was echoed by Houle, that the procedure has been "consensus". So it appears that the Senate has always been in "consensus" with motions put forward by the administration.

No mention was made to define "consensus" which was said to be the venerable past and now recommended practice. If a majority of student senate members disagree is that "consensus"? If two members who are experts on the matter vehemently disagree is that consensus?

I asked senator Linda Pietrantonio (Vice-Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences) what this "consensus procedure" was that Davidson and Houle kept parroting. She said "No idea!".

At a next meeting the Senate will attempt to decide (following as yet unknown rules of order) how it will study the possibility of proposing rules of order.

That's progress.