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, 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?

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