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 20, 2011

Clickers for teaching, nothing for learning


Senator Joseph Hickey has exposed another administrative scam at the University of Ottawa (LINK).

The admin wants to tailor classroom practice towards more mindless technology that prevents or substitutes human interactions with technological gadgetry. And of course they want to media market the fact that they are doing this, as though it were a good thing.

The best way to manage the behaviours of professors is to offer research money and gold stars of funding for their annual reports...

Meanwhile the disease of PowerPoint has spread to epidemic proportions:


without any hope in sight.

Societal engineering of the sterile classroom...

Monday, December 19, 2011

GSAED out to get a student University Senate member for ... ?


"WTF" seems like the natural response to this craziness:

GSAED Councillors Wish to Discipline Student Senator over Pay Equity Request (link)

How a disgruntled physics student could get this far against another physics student using the graduate student union is, well, difficult to understand. Are the GSAED Council members eager to participate in mindless mobbing and why?

We might conclude that the brilliant administration of the university has inspired high quality student governance. Oiyoiyoi.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Remember this? UofOWatch time machine to 1997


It is difficult to know what is most surprising about this 1997 story: That the Fulcrum would write a biting story critical of the administration or that a judge would side with a student against the university...? The legal decision is HERE.

The University of Ottawa was found to disregard a student complaint and to aide a School of Management professor (Jimming Lin) in stealing a student's (Paul Boudreau) intellectual property. Really nice stuff.

This is stunning in view of the University's stated and demonstrated dedication to protect its intellectual property in certain other circumstances... HERE, HERE, HERE and THIS video!

It would be interesting to know if the notorious professor Lin was ever disciplined for his academic fraud? After all, the author of the instant blog was suspended without pay by the University of Ottawa for the picture of Tabaret Hall that you see here on the front page (VIDEO).

I bet not. (Just a wild guess.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

St. Lewis v. Rancourt::: Motion follows mediation attempt


This is an update in the matter of the $1 million defamation lawsuit of plaintiff law professor Joanne St. Lewis, funded by the University of Ottawa, against defendant former physics professor Denis Rancourt.

The parties attempted mediation on December 6, 2011. The mediation attempt lasted almost three hours. The mediator was Deidre Powell (link). The mediation resulted from the defendant's Offer to Settle (link).

The plaintiff is a lawyer and was accompanied at mediation by four more lawyers from the Gowlings law firm:
  • Richard Dearden
  • Wendy Wagner
  • Ryan Kennedy
  • Anastasia Semenova
The plaintiff did not allow the defendant (who is self-represented) to bring an accompanying person.

The parties did not settle any issues in the case.

Immediately after leaving the mediation a Gowlings lawyer served the defendant with a new motion. The new motion is for case management leading to a plaintiff's motion for Summary Judgement.

The case management motion is scheduled to be heard on January 26, 2012 (which may change). The Summary Judgement hearing would be arranged following a schedule that is to be determined.

As a rough definition: A Summary Judgement is a kind of "trial on paper" where the evidence is presented in documentary form and only legal arguments from counsels are heard at the public court hearing.

***

As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Joanne St. Lewis Threatens to Sue Student Senator over Blog" -- Student's-Eye View


As a recent development in the St. Lewis v. Rancourt matter, University of Ottawa student university-senate member Joseph Hickey reports "Joanne St. Lewis Threatens to Sue Student Senator over Blog" and has posted an email exchange with counsel for St. Lewis Richard Dearden, initiated by a Notice of Libel sent to Hickey, on the blog "Student-s-Eye View":

Joanne St. Lewis Threatens to Sue Student Senator over Blog


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

U of O's latest stunt in the wrongful dismissal case of Denis Rancourt

"We can't follow the Adjudicator's Order because it's in English"
-- University of Ottawa, "Canada's largest bilingual university"

When it comes to dealing with their wrongly fired physics professor Denis Rancourt, the University of Ottawa Allan Rock administration's disposition for legalistic stunts is unbounded.

For example, in the on-going wrongful dismissal tribunal hearings, the university administration has embarrassingly instructed its hired lawyers from the prestigious Ottawa law firm Emond-Harnden:

  1. to argue that the professor's "post-dismissal behaviour" (read U of O Watch blog) should be allowed as (future) evidence to justify the (past) dismissal, in a sad display of "see, we told you we were right to have fired him, see, see..." (LINK-with-video)
  2. to argue that there are reasons that Rancourt's U of O Watch blog needs to be silenced during the tribunal hearings but that these reasons should not be disclosed to the public in the public tribunal... (LINK-with-video)
  3. to argue that Rancourt's pre-dismissal suggestion to a student to invite the rapper Immortal Technique onto campus was an incitement to violence (yes) now requiring a special investigation (even though the rapper suggestion, with copied lyrics, was sent to the entire senior university administration without causing so much as a ripple at the time)... (LINK)
  4. to argue that the pedagogical developments used by Rancourt were "experiments on human subjects" and that therefore it now (in mid-tribunal hearings) needed to be researched if a research ethics committee approval had been obtained and whether this constituted an additional cause for discipline... (LINK)

It could almost be called the "Emond-Harnden zoo of legal stunts, sponsored by the Allan Rock administration" and here is the latest instalment...

On the one hand, Lynn Harnden solemnly stated to the labour Arbitrator that the University is seriously (in the "zoo" sense?) committed to providing disclosure of "all arguably relevant documents" (on the same day that obviously incomplete and superficial "disclosures" were handed over - LINK), while on the other hand the same law firm has been hired by the University to now additionally generate stunts to block Rancourt's access to information (ATI) requests for his own personal information in the matter, in appeals with Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) Adjudicators.

And here is the latest of these:

  • IPC orders (IPC Order PO-2009-F) University to search, obtain, and hand over documents to Rancourt from all its professors...
  • Emond-Harnden's Steven Williams argues to IPC that it ("Canada's largest 'bilingual' university") cannot because the Order is in English...
  • IPC Adjudicator responds to the University to get itself a translation if it needs one and gives it an extra month to accomplish this difficult task... (see Adjudicator's letter to the University HERE).

The IPC Adjudicator seems, understandably, exasperated (link). Layers and layers of unboolivable... A world where legal stunts are the norm, in the service of a university administration, "Canada's university"!


Relevant media commentary by Rancourt about ATI and university professors:



All posts about the wrongful dismissal hearings: HERE.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.
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Friday, December 2, 2011

"Suit with racial tones to mediation" -- The Lawyers Weekly


Latest media report in the Joanne St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt defamation lawsuit:

Christopher Guly, "Suit with racial tones to mediation", The Lawyers Weekly, 2 December 2011. (Alt-Link-page-1, Alt-Link-page-2)



As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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U of O senate member launches discussion forum website about the St. Lewis v. Rancourt lawsuit


University of Ottawa Senate member Joseph Hickey has started the new website:

"Forum for dicussion and debate on the lawsuit, University of Ottawa -- Joanne St. Lewis vs. Denis Rancourt"

The instant U of O Watch post gives the relevant link for information, in following all substantive developments in the lawsuit. It does not imply endorsement or agreement.


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Author Jeff Schmidt apologizes to Professor Joanne St. Lewis" -- U of O student senator reports

Following his PREVIOUS REPORT, University of Ottawa student senator Joseph Hickey has reported a latest development related to the St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation lawsuit (link):



Note: U of O Watch reports all prima facie significant developments in the on-going St. Lewis v. Rancourt lawsuit, from all sources, and posts all identified and non-trivial comments relevant to the given post. Such reports do not imply agreement with or endorsement of the linked items.


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Monday, November 21, 2011

St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamtion lawsuit slated for court-imposed mediation

Mediator -- Deidre S. Powell

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice imposes Mandatory Mediation within six months of filing a first defence.

An earlier post explained some of the circumstances that led to scheduling a mediation attempt: HERE.

Shortly after the pleadings were closed (see chronology HERE), plaintiff St. Lewis filed a motion to block all discovery of documents, force immediate Mandatory Mediation and impose her choice of mediator. This additionally led to three secondary motions filed by the plaintiff.

As the six-month court deadline approached defendant Rancourt sent the plaintiff an offer to settle the first motion. The offer was accepted. An expected December mediation was reported in the media (here). Barring unforeseen changes:

The mediation will be held on December 6, 2011.

The mutually agreed mediator will be:



As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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"Author Jeff Schmidt campaigns for just treatment of Professor Joanne St. Lewis" -- Student senator reports

University of Ottawa student senator Joseph Hickey has reported this development related to the St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation lawsuit:

Author Jeff Schmidt campaigns for just treatment of Professor Joanne St. Lewis


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Woaaa. U of O president Allan Rock frantically waves off student at university senate -- video

The closing moments of the University Senate meeting of November 7, 2011, provided a frantic outburst by embattled arm-waving and finger-pointing senate-chair and president Allan Rock who refused to be transparent when asked to disclose the guest list at a "university function" that he hosted at his home while skipping out of his statutory senate responsibilities.

The University of Ottawa is a public university in Canada's capital.

Rock compares himself to student senator and administration-critic Joseph Hickey, based on his recollections of his 1970s days in student governance at the institution, but draws the important distinction that Mr. Hickey's queries are not "relevant" to senate or to student interests; "relevance" of course being defined by his administration.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Transparency and academic freedom co-degraded at U of O -- IPC Order sets bad precedent

A recent (November 7, 2011) Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) rulings on an access request at the University of Ottawa fails on transparency and misuses academic freedom.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dr. Steven E. Noble reporting on the Rancourt wrongful dismissal hearings -- November 1st hearing


Critical pedagogue Dr. Steven E. Noble has been reporting on the binding arbitration tribunal hearings into the wrongful dismissal case of Denis Rancourt. His reports are HERE.

Concluding highlights of Dr. Noble's report about the most recent November 1, 2011, hearing day are as follows.

The points raised by the University group were unbelievable and showed how completely unarmed this side is. The first point regarding Dr. Rancourt somehow engaging in ‘radical’ or ‘experimental’ pedagogy (remember, according to the university the hearing is not about pedagogy!) and therefore comes under the purview of the University Ethics Review Process is completely and utterly absurd. Further, it shows that the University group are not even in the realm of being academics. I come from within Faculties of Education (University of BC and University of Ottawa) – and those faculties have at their core exploring and experimenting with pedagogical approaches and never, over my 15 years of teaching have I ever had to submit an ethics review form along with my syllabus or daily lessons…. With over 100 professors and instructors in the U of O Faculty of Education imagine the amount of ethics review processing that would have to go on every term?! Ignorant, ignorant, ignorant. And it’s not just the Faculty of Education – I know other faculties are, heaven forbid, experimenting and playing with pedagogical approaches and I am 99% sure none of them are submitting ethics review forms either! And further, the University side has had two and a half years to consider that Dr. Rancourt was introducing innovative teaching in an experimental or exploratory way – as he had done years prior to his dismissal. Further, the University characterizes the pedagogy of grading all students similarly as something approaching academic fraud. Really? Faculties of Education and others have been (the University of BC does this routinely) invoking “pass/fail” courses for year whereby if student complete work satisfactorily, they receive a pass and if not they receive a fail. I know at UBC the grade equivalent to a “pass” is B+ so everyone receiving above that level of work passes. How is this different from everyone completing A level work receiving an A? Also, critical pedagogy, which is the approach Dr. Rancourt was exploring has been around since Paulo Freire, in Brazil, created this approach – that’s almost 50 years ago! The K-12 system has dabbled with it for decades; community groups work with it and colleges/universities have explored it for decades… but all of a sudden because Dr. Rancourt is experimenting with it in physics that it must be something novel and new…. Please.

My experience, thus far, of the University side is that it is so focussed on Dr. Rancourt and the narrow context of what he was doing that it is not checking what the broader academic landscape is and the hypocrisy it regularly commits; so, to me, they come off as a complete ignoramuses and buffoons. On top of this, the University side continually highlights how retrograde the institution is without realizing it.

... Through the three days of preliminary motions I have been completed unimpressed by the University side. Highly reactionary , whiny, emotional, petulant – I’m still waiting to hear some serious facts. We didn’t hear a whole lot from the APUO today because much of it was the University and its continued stalling. The APUO is raring to go so they’re spinning their wheels as the University side continues its amateur hour. I’m left wondering how much in tax payer dollars and tuition money is being spent on all of this? How many profs could be hired, how many library books and journal subscriptions and software programs could be bought, how many bursaries could be awarded with all this money?

We, now have to await until January 23, 2012 for – hopefully – the main hearing to start – barring any further caterwauling, stalling, temper tantrums from the University.

All posts about the wrongful dismissal hearings: HERE.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation lawsuit::: Ottawa Black Law Students’ Association Public Statement



We, the Black Law Students’ Association of the University of Ottawa (BLSA Ottawa), are a network of students devoted to excellence and substantive equality. We belong to a national student federation, the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada (BLSAC), committed to advancing the academic and professional interests of black law students across the country. We are charged with the responsibility of actively creating an environment in which black law students, our colleagues, friends and mentors are supported when subject to oppressive and racially discriminatory conduct.

Consequently, we take this opportunity to address publicly the statements made by Denis Rancourt, a former physics professor at the University of Ottawa, who, on his blog U of O Watch, wrote that Faculty of Law Professor Joanne St. Lewis acted like a “house negro” in response to her assessment of a report done by the Student Appeal Centre (SAC) in 2008 at the University of Ottawa.

Historically, “house negro” was a term used to denote a black slave in the United States and Canada who worked within the home of a slave master and who severed ties with his or her cultural-racial heritage. It was a term used to describe a black person who supported the continued marginalization and enslavement of black people. In the opening lines of his blog post Rancourt writes, “February is Black History Month in Canada and the US. U of O Watch believes that it is the right time not only to honour Black Americans who fought for social justice against masters but also to out Black Americans who were and continue to be house negroes to masters.” Not only does U of O Watch not acknowledge African Canadian identities, it claims to “out” black Americans who are still “house negro” to masters. Black Canadians have a distinctive and complex history that is different to that of the United States. We are not “house negroes” because we actively fight for and continue to rigorously advocate for equality and the advancement of black people.

The SAC Report entitled, “Mistreatment of Students, Unfair Practices and Systemic Racism at the University of Ottawa” documented a finding of systemic racism using undefined data and an unrepresentative sampling of the population. In her assessment Professor St. Lewis stated, “the fact that the report did not succeed in its methodological attempts does not mean that there is not a problem that should be addressed.” She further stated, “when the pool of subjects to be examined is so small it is critically important that the data is evaluated cautiously and evaluated carefully…this does not appear to have been the case here.”

Professor St. Lewis has never stated that there is no racism at the University of Ottawa. The very first recommendation in her evaluation report calls for an independent assessment to determine whether systemic racism plays any part in the Academic Fraud process. As we understand it, her point is that the SAC Report is methodologically flawed and misses the opportunity to meaningfully address structural racial discrimination at the university. As Professor St. Lewis asked in her first recommendation, we support the call for an independent assessment of the academic fraud process to “determine whether systematic racism plays any part in the Academic Fraud process” and an account of what actions SAC has taken since its report was released.

We, BLSA Ottawa, know racism to be a multi-dimensional and nuanced subject area. We firmly plant our roots in anti-racist politics. However, this does not mean that a report that is wanting of substance is to be endorsed because we are people of colour. Students would benefit from an in-depth investigative process to lend credibility to any claim of systemic racism. To declare that the only black female English Common Law professor acted like a “house negro” for merely pointing this out is reprehensible; and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms. Professor St. Lewis has been the strongest and longest-standing mentor available to black law students from Vancouver to Halifax, including here in the National Capital (Region) for over 20 years.

The United Nations declared 2011 to be the International Year for People of African Descent. We, BLSA Ottawa, stand in full solidarity with Professor Joanne St. Lewis, and call on all law students, lawyers and community members to stand united with the black community in our collective effort to oppose all instances of racial discrimination.

UofOWatch: Since the original post does not allow comments, please feel free to comment here.


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Irregular U of O selection of Michaelle Jean as Chancellor -- Student Senator report



Will the new Chancellor-to-be intervene as requested?


Related post on Michaelle Jean about systemic racism at U of O: HERE.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Canada's university presidents discover a new variety of academic freedom


Well there you have it.

The geniuses that administer our public universities have decided to re-define academic freedom without reference to the last hundred years of jurisprudence and academic workplace practice.

Why not. What the hell. Let's just make it up.

They have done this via their association -- the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). Whereas their last (1988) statement on academic freedom was palatable and consistent with reality, the new and improved version launched in 2011 is a manifesto to eliminate the concept altogether.

It is a an excretion of administratium aimed at arming executives against their critics and all those students and professors who may wish to entertain notions of collegial governance, professional independence, and intra-institutional critique.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has rightly seen fit to condemn the new AUCC policy document in an open letter, thanks to an institutional memory that goes beyond the last few years.

It's all very telling.

This means at least two things:
(1) Our "leaders" loathe academics who cherish critical scholarship and fear communities of independent thinkers; and

(2) Our "leaders" correctly judge that they can pollute the policy environment with such rubbish without risking ridicule and significant backlash, showing that academic freedom truly has been eroded.

Sad, sad, sad.

Integrating Empire relies on us being brain-dead and the educational system is the best way to achieve intellectual mindocide (ref). The presidents are just doing their job. And they will continue to do their job as long as we continue to sleep through it all.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rancourt wrongful dismissal hearings::: Full disclosure is required

(see video commentary below)

In the matter of the on-going binding arbitration tribunal into the wrongful dismissal case of physics professor Denis Rancourt, the University of Ottawa has made a legal undertaking to disclose everything that is "arguably relevant" to all the issues before the arbitrator.

The union (APUO) has established in the tribunal that the issues include that the firing was made in bad faith, under a false pretext, with the goal of silencing and removing Rancourt.

In the words of renowned academic workplace researcher Professor Kenneth Westhues, the Rancourt firing was an "administrative mobbing."

The University provided its disclosures six months after the May 2, 2011, start of the hearings.

These University disclosures were reported by the union to the tribunal on November 1, 2011, as being "superficial" and "incomplete", in what can only be characterized as an understatement.

Hired-lawyer Lynn Harnden for the University on November 1, 2011, undertook to "verify" the completeness of the University's disclosures, which contain virtually no documents about any of the particulars of bad faith which the union has submitted.

The latter union-advanced particulars include:
  • The University's 2006-2008 covert information-gathering campaign against Rancourt and other University employees and students
  • The University's 2007 unjustified barring of Rancourt from all first-year-level courses
  • The University's 2008 unjustified barring of Rancourt from all teaching
  • The University's November-2008 lock-out of Rancourt and all his graduate students from their laboratory and the removal of essential laboratory materials
  • The University's December-2008 banning of Rancourt from campus except with police escort, including his campus radio show and his cinema discussion series
  • The University's 2009 refusals to consider duly submitted documents in its decision to fire Rancourt

Such apparent disregard of an undertaking to disclose, if not corrected, is an egregious breach of natural justice. For the arbitration to be allowed to proceed under these conditions, if not substantively corrected, would be a fatal flaw in the tribunal process.

Here is professor Rancourt's reaction in a video interview made on November 1, 2011:



Message to U of O:
Full disclosure is required


All posts about the wrongful dismissal hearings: HERE.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.
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Rancourt wrongful dismissal hearings::: Invitation to students to engage with institutions

"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."
-- Michel Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

In this video, fired physics professor Denis Rancourt invites students do consider Foucault's position and to positively engage with the powerful institutions that constrain education and their lives:



All posts about the wrongful dismissal hearings: HERE.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rancourt wrongful dismissal hearings::: Student media intimidates and harasses University representatives -- video

Youtube video shows misbehaviour of student video reporter which was disallowed by the Arbitrator who found it to be harassment and intimidation:



These events occurred on October 31, 2011, and November 1, 2011, at hearings into the wrongful dismissal of tenured physics professor Denis Rancourt at the University of Ottawa. The next hearing date is January 23, 2012.


All posts about the wrongful dismissal hearings: HERE.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.
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Do democracy and a Rock mix?

It would seem not.

Allan Rock Admin Wants Unspecified Closed Session: Nov. 7 Senate Meeting

But there is always hope:
Senate Will Correct SFUO Election Scam
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Student union slaps hard to get president Allan Rock to follow his own policies

University Senate camera must stay on.

SFUO Stands Up for Senate Video Transparency: Letter to President Rock

Letter is HERE.

FAIR examples of academia in trouble in our troubled times



York University fires whistleblower

York University has fired one of its key investigators who turned into a whistleblower of possible fraud at the school that eventually led to a police investigation.


Code of Silence: legal threats silence Canadians

In 2008, Les Éditions Écosociété, a tiny Montreal publishing house, released a 348-page treatise on human rights and environmental violations by Canadian mining companies overseas.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

DAY-4 hearing into wrongful dismissal of Rancourt::: You could not make this up...


In another zoo-like episode, University hired lawyer Lynn Harnden came in this morning and announced to the Arbitrator, to the union and to the public that the University of Ottawa has just come to the realization that fired physics professor Denis Rancourt's innovative pedagogical advances constitute experimentation on human subjects.

And that, therefore, obviously, this opens a whole area that the University needs to research. Were the necessary experimental protocols approved? Was the ethics committee for experimentation on human subjects consulted?

This was introduced as new grounds for the dismissal of Rancourt and the hearing needed to be adjourned to give the University time to research these newly discovered violations...

Union lawyer Sean McGee responded that the idea that professor Rancourt's innovative teaching should be compared to testing an unknown vaccine "defies belief".

Harnden then dropped this but presented another reason that the hearing needed to be adjourned:

Despite the University having all the relevant Rancourt emails and blog posts for years and despite the University being in possession of Rancourt's office computer since the 2009 firing, the University now proclaimed that its own opening statements of yesterday newly established that the Rancourt office computer hard-drive now needed to be searched...

It argued a search of this computer was needed before the hearing could be continued.

The Arbitrator accepted the latter argument but insisted that the University must be ready to roll by the next hearing day (January 23, 2012). In looking at Mr. Harnden the Arbitrator explained "you will both have your spin but the evidence is the evidence..." Mr. Harnden smiled in agreement.

Then McGee made a final point: The University disclosure of documents (provided only yesterday) appears incomplete.

Harnden undertook to verify the completeness of the University disclosure and to advise accordingly at some later time.

As a last point, Harnden tried to get the Arbitrator to "clarify" his order to exclude video cameras to also exclude cameras outside of the hearing room. The Arbitrator explained his ruling that inside was inside and outside was outside. Mr. Harnden seemed satisfied with that.

The whole thing took under one hour and another day of hearings was again thus wasted. The count so far is: One of four days of hearings has been properly used as intended when first scheduled.

All posts about the wrongful dismissal hearings: HERE.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.
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Monday, October 31, 2011

U of O witch-hunt against Rancourt in full swing -- DAY-3 of arbitration trial


Today was DAY-3 of the binding labour arbitration hearing into the wrongful dismissal case of physics professor Denis Rancourt. Following a rough start (link to all posts about hearings), it was up to the University, in the person of union-busting lawyer Lynn Harnden, to make the opening statements.

The opening statement did not disappoint. It was over-the-top with partial and undated extracts from blog posts, media articles, emails from unidentified sources; including lyrics from Immortal Technique, a reference to the Ottawa bank firebombing, suggestions of inciting violence (evidenced by not inciting violence), and more.

Harnden distributed paper copies of his 19-page statement to the media and public: HERE.

The public and the union were stunned, as was the grievor.

The union, in the person of labour lawyer Sean McGee, patiently responded orally in an almost two-hour presentation. Here are highlights:

"His ideas are so dangerous that he is not allowed on campus without a police escort."

"Can a professor challenge the established order and entrenched patterns of thought? Can a professor adopt a methodology in his teaching and defend and protect that methodology ... without fear of the capital punishment of termination?"

"The University is offended, inconvenienced, and students criticize ... his methods are unpopular and unconventional ... but what is this case about?"

"The University's portrait of a Mansonesque figure is such a distortion of the facts."

"The allegation of 'frivolous grading' is just not true. Nothing of the sort. This was a studied, carefully considered attempt to improve the way physics is taught and learned."

"Calling this 'academic fraud' is shocking hyperbole from an institution of higher learning. The University alleges 'frivolous', 'fraudulent', 'selfish' ... there is nothing to suggest selfish. In fact, quite the contrary ..."

"Case in point, the use of Immortal Technique to show how demonic professor Rancourt is and to allege his desperation in his desire to lure students ... is reminiscent of Catholic nuns in Ottawa urging young girls to stay away from Elvis Presley's concert and his lewd and gyrating hips... and this now in the 21st century."

"Professor Rancourt was made to be increasingly limited to a smaller and smaller sphere of activity: from no teaching in 1st year, to no teaching, to being locked out of his laboratory, to blocking his cinema series, to blocking access to his campus radio show, to no campus access without police escort, to termination."

"This is significant evidence that the University wanted to cut off his efforts to communicate his ideas."

"We are going to ask you to conclude that professor Rancourt does not incite people to violence -- does not, has not, and will not incite anyone to violence. For the University to cite the law about risks of violent acts -- raising that in this context - is - difficult - to - understand - ..."

"The University is funding the defamation lawsuit [St. Lewis v. Rancourt] it now uses as evidence for professor Rancourt's dismissal..."

"In the end, this is a bad faith attempt to get rid of him at all costs."

"Regardless of what you think of professor Rancourt, we will ask you to find that there were no grounds for dismissal."

Tomorrow is DAY-4. The University wants a discovery order to dig into the Immortal Technique connection... Meanwhile, it has supplied none of the emails of the upper administration's known-to-UofOWatch "war room" meetings* in firing Rancourt. (*Most of these will be non-disclosed pursuant to solicitor-client privilege.)

Following public submissions (LINK), the Arbitrator had released his decision to ban all video and audio recordings of the hearings, which are done without an official court transcript -- see ruling HERE. The University's on-record repeated attempts (E.G.) to potentially block the grievor's UofOWatch blog during the hearings fell flat and was not mentioned or retained in the Arbitrator's decision.

See hearings schedule and reports: HERE.

Chronology of wrongful-dismissal background events: HERE.
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wires crossed in the U of O St. Lewis v. Rancourt litigation...?


"... it is a personal libel action and has nothing to do with it being a SLAPP suit at all."

-- Richard G. Dearden, Gowlings-firm-lawyer paid by U of O (link)


"Her efforts were not personal, but in the interests of the University."

-- David W. Scott, BLG-national-Co-Chair lawyer paid by the U of O (link)




"I have been asked ... to provide an independent evaluation..."

-- Joanne St. Lewis, U of O law professor and plaintiff (link)


"The University has received and will make public this week an evaluation, by an independent assessor, of the report of the Student Appeals Centre."

-- Robert Major, Former U of O VP-Academic and Provost (link)


"... work which she undertook at the request of the University and in the course of her duties and responsibilities as an employee. Her efforts were not personal, but in the interests of the University."

-- David W. Scott, BLG-national-Co-Chair lawyer paid by the U of O (link)
?

Oh, and this by the incomparable president Allan Rock (link):

From: Allan Rock
Sent: Monday November 17, 2008 11:25 AM
To: Robert Major, Victor Simon, Mona Nemer, Nathalie Des Rosiers, Andre Dumulon, Julie Cafley
Subjet: RE: NEWS RELEASE -- Student Appeal Centre report

Robert:

I think the report is very well done. My only concern is with the first recommendation, the wording of which seems to assume that there is some racism present already. Since Professor St. Lewis has already concluded that there is no evidence of it, such wording is wrong and inconsistent with her own report.

Apart from that, the report looks very sound. I assume any press release will say that we are going to study the recommendations, since we have to consult the Senate and other interested parties before committing to the time limits and other recommended changes.

One last point. I would like Robert to be the only point of contact for us with Professor St. Lewis. Although her report is excellent, it may be criticized as not being "independent" from the administration. So far, our dealings with her have been through Robert and have been scrupulously objective. We have simply sought her view, and have imposed no limitations, contraints or conditions. She has been entirely free to say anything she wants. In order to maintain this professional and objective relationship with her, I want Robert to be the only one in communication with her. Robert can simply observe that the first recommendation seems inconsitent with her findings. It will then be up to professor St. Lewis to decide whether to make a change. If a number of people all send emails and call, we will lose that focus of professionalism and independence.

I will take this matter up with CA at noon today. Robert, will you be able to plug in by phone?

Allan
[In response to Robert asking all to quickly give him their feedback on St. Lewis' draft report...]

As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gowlings-firm-lawyer Richard Dearden reaction to U of O disclosing its funding of St. Lewis lawsuit


Following THIS, as per a recent media article (HERE):

“I would think that the defamatory statements that he has made about Professor St. Lewis show that it is a personal libel action and has nothing to do with it being a SLAPP suit at all,” Dearden said.

“It has everything to do with protecting your reputation.”

Dearden, who often acts for The Citizen, said the blog comes up as the second result in a Google search of St. Lewis’s name.

“It has to come down. That’s our position,” Dearden said, adding that financial arrangements with his client are privileged and he would not discuss them.

***


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gowlings-firm-lawyer Richard Dearden on Rules and on conflict of interest

An inside view of the St. Lewis v. Rancourt litigation


Now that the University of Ottawa was forced to admit (HERE) its funding of the on-going legal attack against fired physics professor Denis Rancourt, questions remain about president Allan Rock's direct involvement in the decision to fund the litigation. And there now can be no doubt that this a public matter.

If the action is in-part effectively a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation), then the behaviour of plaintiff's counsel (who is a part-time law professor at the University of Ottawa) in managing the action is a matter of public concern.

The following email exchange between Gowlings-firm-lawyer Richard Dearden and defendant Rancourt gives an inside view of the nature of the interactions in the litigation.

One sees a counsel for the plaintiff, under instructions for the plaintiff who is a law professor, who disregards the most basic Rules of Procedure and who attempted to create a situation of obvious conflict of interest in establishing the conditions for a mandatory mediation.


On Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 3:40 PM, Dearden, Richard ; wrote:

Mr. Rancourt - fyi, I will be filing another motion to compel you to answer questions you refused to answer on October 14th. It is my understanding that the earliest date available is October 27th. The motion will be before a Judge on October 27th at 10am.

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 2:22 PM, Denis Rancourt ; wrote:

Mr. Dearden,
I received the Motion Record today.
I will not contest your Motion and I will answer your additional questions by email under my continued affirmation by October 28th.
DGR

On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 5:23 PM, Dearden, Richard ; wrote:

Mr. Rancourt. I acknowledge that you will be answering the questions you refused to answer on your continued cross-examination. Unfortunately and unnecessarily you required us to incur the costs of the preparation of a Motion Record and the service and filing of the motion record.
I gave you notice during the cross-examination that I would be seeking costs against you if I was required to file a motion to obtain an Order compelling you to answer the questions you refused to answer.
To avoid an appearance before a Judge on October 27th to deal with the issue of costs, I am offering that you pay $350 in costs within the next 10 days. If you accept this offer, we will send for your signature a Consent to an Order that will state you will pay $350 in costs and that you will answer the refusals that you have now agreed to answer. Please let me know your position on the $350 costs no later than Tuesday October 25th.

On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 7:26 PM, Denis Rancourt ; wrote:

Mr. Dearden,

1. Thank you for your message.

2. You refer to a notice about cost you allege to have given to me (you did not) during the cross-examination of October 14th and you have used the full transcript of the October 14th cross examinations in your work to prepare the Motion Record but you have not provided me with a full copy of the transcript. You have up to now disregarded Rule 39.02(4)(a) and my deadline to file a responding motion record using your motion date was Friday. Therefore, please immediately send me a copy of the full transcripts of the October 14th cross examinations, which are due irrespective of whether we go to hearing or not:

Rule 39.02(4)(a) states:
(4) On a motion other than a motion for summary judgment or a contempt order, a party who cross-examines on an affidavit,
(a) shall, where the party orders a transcript of the examination, purchase and serve a copy on every adverse party on the motion, free of charge;
3. You did not ask me to comply before needlessly going ahead and preparing a Motion Record, contrary to what you have always done in the past (all previous three motions) and as I would have expected. That is the unfortunate thing. In the future, to avoid this situation, please always first simply ask and I may be able to agree without any need to further expend resources.

4. Given these circumstances, please (i) drop the cost request and (ii) send me the copies of the transcripts which are due under Rule 39.02(4)(a).

5. Also, you have continued to disregard Rule 37.10.1(1)(a) in always refusing to confer with me before setting dates for motions, now the fourth motion. In this case, I am not available Thursday October 27th, but that is irrelevant when we can agree on the outstanding matters.

Rule 37.10.1(1)(a) states:
37.10.1 (1) A party who makes a motion on notice to another party shall,
(a) confer or attempt to confer with the other party;
6. Please send me the Consent with no costs and send me the transcripts.

DGR

On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 10:49 AM, Dearden, Richard ; wrote:

Mr. Rancourt
1. Your demands for a copy of the entire transcript are based on the false premise that I am in possession of the full transcript. The only copy of the transcript that I had in preparing the Motion Record are the pages that I served on you in the Motion Record.

2. The first available date to get before a Judge next week for a 30 minute motion was October 27th. You fail to appreciate that the mandatory mediation motion is scheduled for November 15th and accordingly time is of the essence to complete my cross-examination of you. You have informed the Court that you are not employed and therefore you should have no problem attending Court on October 27th to deal with how much costs you should pay for refusing to answer relevant questions and unnecessarily requiring me to file another refusals motion. You also have the choice to retain counsel to appear on your behalf on October 27th.

3. Please note that on October 27th I will be seeking costs against you in an amount higher than the $350 I offered you as well as costs for the attendance before the Court on October 27th. The offer of $350 costs remains open until 2pm on October 24th.

On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 3:51 PM, Denis Rancourt ; wrote:

Mr. Dearden,

1. Thank you for your continued offer about cost which I continue to consider.

2. I understand that you are not presently in possession of a copy of the entire transcripts, as you assert. My request for copies of the entire transcripts is based on Rule 39.02(4)(a) which states "where the party orders a transcript of the examination". I was personally present when you ordered the transcripts and insisted on knowing the time it would take from the Court Reporter. Otherwise, you are very talented if you can select specific parts for a partial transcript for use in a Motion Record without you or your associates using or knowing the full transcript? Please comply with Rule 39.02(4) and instruct the Court Reporter to send me the complete transcripts.

3. I am not available on Thursday 27th. I would have informed you of this had you conferred with me about the date as you were required to do following Rule 37.10.1(1)(a). My next available date at 10am is Thursday November 3rd. Recall that this would likely be dealing only with the matter of cost, a point that you appear to not appreciate in citing the November 15th main motion hearing date.

4. You did not ask me to comply before needlessly going ahead and preparing a Motion Record, contrary to what you have always done in the past (all previous three motions) and as I would have expected. In the future, to avoid this situation, please always first simply ask and I may be able to agree without any need to further expend resources.

5. Do you accept the attached Offer to Settle the main motion? If so, you will agree that the outstanding refusals and undertaking are moot and that answers are therefore not required. This would greatly simplify the overall proceedings and I hope that you can accept the Offer.

DGR

On Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 7:46 PM, Dearden, Richard ; wrote:

Mr. Rancourt

1. further to para 5 (and the attachment) to the email below, Professor St. Lewis accepts your offer to settle the mandatory mediation motion and selects Ellen Zweibel as the mediator. I will email Professor Zweibel (and cc you) to ask if she can conduct the mediation on November 15th.

2. We will cancel the refusals motion scheduled for October 27th and cancel the mandatory mediation motion scheduled for November 15th.

3. I will respond to the other paragraphs in your email below later this week.

From: Dearden, Richard ;
Date: Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 9:38 PM
Subject: Professor St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt
To: Ellen Zweibel
Cc: Denis Rancourt

Good evening Professor Zweibel. I act for Professor Joanne St. Lewis in a libel action she has commenced against Mr. Rancourt, a former physics Professor at the University of Ottawa. Mr. Rancourt has proposed you as a mediator for the mandatory mediation in this action and Professor St. Lewis is in agreement with that proposal. I appreciate this may be short notice but are you available to be the mediator in a mandatory mediation on in this action on November 15th in Ottawa?

From: Denis Rancourt ;
Date: Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 11:17 PM
Subject: Re: Professor St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt
To: Ellen Zweibel
Cc: "Dearden, Richard" <>

Good evening Professor Zweibel,

I would like to clarify a few points following Mr. Dearden's email:

(1) This would be an assignment under the Ontario Roster mediator program for Mandatory Mediation.

(2) As I would with any mediator, I would like to briefly meet you one-on-one before the mediation date (as soon as possible) only to ask you questions which are consistent with the section entitled "What should parties consider in choosing a mediator?" in the Ministry of the Attorney General's "Fact Sheet: Mandatory Mediation, Effective January 1, 2010".

(3) Frankly, I did not realize when today I made my proposal to use a Roster mediator for Mandatory Mediation (and gave three Ottawa-based names in inverse-alphabetical order) that you are in the Common Law Faculty and therefore are a colleague of both Mr. Dearden and Professor St. Lewis. I now note from a brief web search that you are an eminently qualified mediator. If in your professional opinion and following our short introductory meeting, you conclude that there is not a conflict of interest, then I will accept your judgment and look forward to a productive mediation.

Sincerely,
Dr. Denis Rancourt

From: Dearden, Richard ;
Date: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 5:55 AM
Subject: RE: Professor St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt
To: Denis Rancourt ;, Ellen Zweibel
Cc: "Wagner, Wendy"

Mr. Rancourt - further to paragraph 2 of your email below to Professor Zweibel, I have previously informed you that you will not be meeting with the mediator one on one prior to the commencement of the mediation. We have accepted your choice of Professor Zweibel as the mediator whose mediations skills are renown. Our next steps are to confirm the date of the mediation (we ahve asked Professor Zweibel if she is available November 15th) , sign a mediation agreement and once we book a mediation date we will decide on the date that we provide Professsor Zweibel with our Mediation Briefs.

From: Denis Rancourt ;
Date: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 9:14 AM
Subject: Re: Professor St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt
To: "Dearden, Richard" ;
Cc: Ellen Zweibel, "Wagner, Wendy" ;

Mr. Dearden,

The next steps are:

(1) For Professor Zweibel to answer whether she is able to accept the mediation assignment, given both the time constraints and my question about conflict of interest. This should be answered as soon as possible.

(2) If no, to choose another mediator by mutual consent.

Denis Rancourt

From: Ellen Zweibel ;
Date: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 10:33 AM
Subject: RE: Professor St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt
To: Denis Rancourt <>, "Dearden, Richard" ;
Cc: "Wagner, Wendy" ;

Good morning Mr Rancourt and Mr Dearden

I must decline the request to act as the mediator in this matter. Professor St. Lewis is a colleague on my faculty. I have been a member of the APUO grievance committee and have heard requests by Mr Rancourt on one or two grievances matters.

Thank you for considering me for this.

Very truly yours,

Ellen B. Zweibel, Professor

From: Denis Rancourt ;
Date: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 10:51 AM
Subject: Re: Professor St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt
To: Ellen Zweibel ;
Cc: "Dearden, Richard" ;, "Wagner, Wendy" ;

Professor Zweibel,

Thank you for the rapid answer.

Just to clarify: I do not recall your presence at one or two grievance committee meetings and even your web photo did not help my memory. Also, there have been many such grievance committee meetings with many different committee members and I do not receive minutes from these meetings. Very sorry for the confusion.

Sincerely,
Dr. Denis Rancourt

From: Renzo Catana ;
Date: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 1:13 PM
Subject: Transcript - WORD
To: "Richard G. Dearden" ;
Cc: Denis Rancourt ;

Gentlemen,

Please find attached the Continued Cross-Examinations of Mr. Rancourt and Mr. Lamontagne of October 14, 2011 in WORD format.

The hard copies will be delivered later today by courier.

Renzo Catana
CORNELL CATANA REPORTING SERVICES

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

U of O admits funding "private lawsuit" against fired professor

David W. Scott, BLG Co-Chair

The high-profile case of St. Lewis v. Rancourt involves law professor Joanne St. Lewis, represented by part-time-law-professor and Gowlings-firm-lawyer Richard Dearden, and former physics professor Denis Rancourt, all at the University of Ottawa.

St. Lewis' defamation lawsuit is for a blog post by Rancourt critical of St. Lewis' role in minimizing a student report about systemic racism at the school, via an "evaluation report" of the student report. Both St. Lewis and the University administration characterized the St. Lewis "evaluation report" as an "independent" assessment.

The lawsuit claims damages of $1 million and would provide $125 thousand directly to the University for a scholarship fund.

There is uncontested public record evidence of the litigation being aggressive, and a barrage of four motions have already been filed against the self-represented and unemployed defendant since pleadings were closed on August 5, 2011, HERE.

Case law in Ontario has established that publicly funded corporations such as school boards and municipalities cannot sue individuals for defamation related to any criticisms, in that the asymmetry of resources negates the individual's Charter rights.

Not to mention the other obvious problems related to using public funds and student tuition money in this way if an accredited university were to fund a "private" litigation aimed at silencing one of its critics.

Questions therefore arise: Is this effectively a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation)? Is public and student money being used for one professor to sue a former professor over criticism with sting and name-calling? Is this an individual exercising her right to protect her reputation or an institution attacking one of its vocal critics?

Is the University funding the lawsuit?

It has taken two months to extract an answer from the University. The efforts to get an answer have included:
  • Persistent and repeated requests to president Allan Rock and his administration, HERE.
  • An access to information (ATI) request, rebuked as "frivolous", HERE.
  • A formal motion at University Senate, HERE.
  • A direct and unanswered question to Dearden in a Court hearing (October 6, 2011).

Finally, an answer came one-day after the October 24, 2011, deadline set by Rancourt. The answer is provided by a national firm Co-Chair of BLG, the largest law firm in Canada, Mr. David W. Scott (link to letter):

Dear Dr. Rancourt

We represent the University of Ottawa and are responding to your communication of August 28.

Of the many questions which you have posed, I am instructed to answer only the first. The remaining questions suggest an agenda and are beyond any requirement to respond.

Indeed, the University of Ottawa is reimbursing Professor St. Lewis for her legal fees incurred in her defamation proceeding in the Courts against you. Your defamatory remarks about Professor St. Lewis were occasioned by work which she undertook at the request of the University and in the course of her duties and responsibilities as an employee. Her efforts were not personal, but in the interests of the University. Furthermore, your outrageously racist attack upon her takes this case out of the ordinary and, in the view of the University, alone creates a moral obligation to provide support for her in defence of her reputation.

For the future, any questions which you choose to pose in respect of which there is no legal obligation to respond will be not answered.

Yours very truly
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
David W. Scott

When Mr. Scott was elected Chair of Pro Bono Law Ontario in 2007, he graciously stated (link):
"In my opinion, the single most important issue facing those charged with responsibility for the administration of justice is access to the courts by ordinary citizens. That's what Pro Bono Law Ontario is all about. It's great to be part of such a wonderful organization."

I guess this is Mr. Scott's way to help ensure that law professor St. Lewis has access to justice?


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Submissions on video transparency to Arbitrator Foisy in Rancourt wrongful dismissal case


Following the latest hearing day of October 12, 2011, in the wrongful dismissal case of physics professor Denis Rancourt, the Arbitrator invited written submissions about video recording of the sessions, with a submission deadline of October 18, 2011.

A report about the October 12, 2011, arbitration session is HERE. Public records of the hearings are HERE. Nasty things done to Prof. Rancourt are listed HERE.

Two written submissions about video access were received by Arbitrator Claude Foisy, from Dr. Steve E. Noble and from the griever Dr. Denis Rancourt; HERE and HERE.


Excerpts from the submissions of Dr. Noble are as follows.

From the Summary:

"This is the first case of its kind in Canada – the (wrongful) dismissal of a tenured full professor because of academic reasons (which flies in the face of implicit full academic freedoms professors are supposed to enjoy within university settings). It is a landmark case that has national and arguably international repercussions for the Academy, more broadly."

"I demand that these hearings must be audio-visually recorded and that an air of openness, transparency, public accountability be presumed over that of confidentiality and restricting public access. This shouldn’t even be some belaboured discussion."

From the main text:

"... Yet, here we have an arbitration that was immediately cloaked in secrecy despite the public nature of the issue and the institution involved."

"... hiding this public good behind a constructed mantel of pervasive corporate managerialism undermines democracy, while disavowing the overwhelmingly public nature of “ownership” of these institutions."

"Priority – and the default - should be for openness, transparency, public accountability – because this relates to the running of a public institution, paid for by taxpayers and, increasingly through student tuition/ancillary fees: a university."

"University administrators, including legal counsel and President Rock are not shareholders, nor corporate owners; they are caretakers or custodians of the public good and investment in education paid for by citizens. And as caretakers, they should be operating with the presumption that everything they do, or documents they produce, will and should come under public scrutiny."

"Students are learners and stakeholders, not clientswho should not be privy to confidential commercial information and interests. Increasingly, university elites act like autocratic parents to increasingly infantilized students, rendered relatively powerless: unseen and unheard. Muzzling the recording of these hearings would be an extension of knowing what’s best for the academic community."

"The default position must be that these hearings must be audio-visually recorded because it’s in the public’s interest to do so. And that’s the first interest that should be protected."

"I find it deeply troubling that the union, for instance, has agreed that none of the hearings be transcribed. [...] To remove a layer of public record makes me very suspicious as to why this is being requested and why this is being agreed to."

"Publicly firing a 20+ year professor who is fully tenured under questionable processes is directly relevant to the broader Academic, Educational and General communities. This episode within the University of Ottawa will have direct effect upon academic freedom, freedoms of expression and tenure policy for years to come. Students and professors alike need to have all material arising from these hearings available to them to engage in debate and discourse as part of the much larger educational project."

-- Dr. Steve E. Noble

Dr. Rancourt's submissions are HERE.

The next hearing dates and places are listed HERE.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation lawsuit::: St. Lewis wins motion to compel answers


Part of the suit of motions discussed in the previous post was a motion to compel answers to questions in cross-examination of defendant Denis Rancourt on an affidavit on the main motion.

In English this means that there was a first (main) motion. Evidence for the main motion was filed in the form of affidavits (sworn or affirmed statements) with exhibits. The defendant was then cross-examined on his affidavits by the plaintiff's lawyer Richard Dearden.

Present at this September 6, 2011, cross-examination were plaintiff Joanne St. Lewis and her two lawyers Richard Dearden and Wendy Wagner (both with the Gowlings law firm), the defendant, and three members of the public who came to observe.

Following refusals by the defendant to answer several questions in cross-examination, on the basis of constituting premature discovery and/or relevancy, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel answers and to re-examine the defendant in a second cross-examination session.

The motion to compel answers was heard in court before Master ("judge") MacLeod on October 6, 2011, and took all day. The ruling is HERE.

In response to the motion to compel answers, the defendant filed evidence about the aggressive nature of the cross-examination, HERE.

Observer Joseph Hickey blogged about the cross-examination (HERE) and the SLAW Canadian law website re-posted some of Mr. Hickey's statements HERE.

The SLAW article also emphasized a law-setting element of the Master's Decision (paragraph-20) regarding the open court principle in out-of-court cross-examinations. These aspects were critiqued on the Activist Teacher blog HERE.

On the main point of the motion, Master Macleod found that four of the fifteen refusal questions were "overly intrusive" and did not need to be answered by the defendant (paragraph-17, HERE). On the questions requiring answers, Master MacLeod ordered a new cross-examination allowing "reasonable follow-up questions".

As a result of the re-examination, the plaintiff was allowed to learn the exact financial and real-estate holdings of the defendant (RRSPs, house, pension), all the communications with expert Claude Lamontagne, about letters of support from U of O professors in the Rancourt dismissal case, and information about the defendant's intentions in suing the University of Ottawa for insurance coverage in the litigation and about his home insurance policy.

Master MacLeod remarked on the possible University of Ottawa involvement as (par-23, in part):

"On the other hand, of course, he [the defendant] will be submitting to the judge on the main motion that the entire motion – and therefore all of the costs – is improper and misguided. In the event that the judge agrees with this, it might not be reasonable for the defendant to be saddled with the costs of a motion within that motion. Of course he also argues that in the action as a whole he is the person being wronged because the action is simply an improper – and indeed unconstitutional – attempt by the University of Ottawa to muzzle free speech and criticism."

The Court's Decision was followed by an attempt by Mr. Dearden to obtain "clarification" that would have changed one aspect of the order. This was settled in favour of the defendant: Dearden to Master Oct.11th, Rancourt to Master Oct.13th, Dearden to Master Oct.13th, Dearden to Master Oct.13th again, Master MacLeod's Order Oct.17th.


As background, all related posts about the lawsuit are HERE.

Links to all pleadings and court documents in the lawsuit are HERE.

A Law Times media article about the lawsuit is HERE.
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