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, May 29, 2011

U of O student union clique election coup

It happened this year at the University of Ottawa, "Canada's university".

A clique of anti-oppression-trained student union executives and officers changed the rules to replace an elected student union vice-president by one of their own.

The mess was reported in Macleans On Campus in March 2011 HERE.

The move was similar to retracting a score-wise unambiguous hockey victory on the basis of post-game re-evaluated body-checking penalties using the league owners' reevaluation while barring the referee board's traditional role, thereby disallowing any mechanism for appeal.

Except that this was not a hockey game. It was a democratic election.

In our democracy only consequentially fraudulent elections can lead to retracting election results (and a new election!). Broken rules lead to reprimands, fines, controls and other penalties; and the candidate and those involved are answerable to the electorate.

It is a sign of our times that students -- less corrupted by lengthy accommodation to society's hierarchical dominance -- can behave in this way, be blind to the obvious fundamental violation of principle, and actively defend their attack against democracy.

There is little hope that this student union executive will be able to even perceive the despotism of the university administration?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rock's senate: Democratic in name

A university senate is intended to be an instrument of collegial governance that is the highest authority on all academic matters at the institution.

This role of senate is a foundational principle of the modern university in a democratic society and is established by statute (University of Ottawa Act, 1965).

Someone forgot to tell president Allan Rock (and Chair of the senate, University of Ottawa). It seems this item was either absent from the president school curriculum, or Mr. Rock was not paying attention when that came up in class?

Here are three recent reports from senator Joseph Hickey's blog about senate that show a senate treated like a show committee where senators are allowed to misbehave in disregarding student motions not popular with Rock's administration:::

Monday, May 23, 2011

UofOWatch update::: Richard Dearden promises to sue

THIS unfortunate matter is not going away. The following email exchange with Canadian top lawyer Richard Dearden shows that a lawsuit against UofOWatch will follow. It also shows an aggressive lawyer not interested in discussing solutions or even providing clarifications on simple points.

[Note: It makes more sense if you read from the bottom up.]

From: Dearden, Richard
Date: Mon, May 23, 2011 at 4:04 PM
Subject: RE: U of O Watch Blog: Joanne St. Lewis
To: Denis Rancourt

Mr. Rancourt
1. cease communicating with my client directly - you communicate with me as counsel for Professor St. Lewis.
2. i attach [LINK] my May 20th letter to you which is the second Notice i was referring to in my email to you today.
3. there is nothing to clarify regarding your defamatory statements - you take down your defamatory blogs immediately and then i will consider meeting with you to discuss the wording of your unequivocal retraction and apology to Professor St. Lewis that you will publish on your blog. That may assist in mitigating the damages you have caused her.
4. as for your para 4 below, the Statement of Claim that will be issued against you should answer your questions. Once again i strongly recommend that you retain a lawyer to defend the defamatory statements you continue to repeat and add to (such as the statements in para 5 below that are false and defamatory). I am informing you to not repeat the accusations in para 5 below to any third party. To do so will be malicious and further aggravate my client's damages.

Richard Dearden

From: Denis Rancourt []
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2011 3:25 PM
To: Dearden, Richard
Cc: joanne.stlewis@uottawa.ca

Subject: Re: U of O Watch Blog: Joanne St. Lewis

Dear Mr. Dearden,

Thank you for your reply. Clarifications are needed in this matter.

(1) Since you have not indicated that you would inform your client about my May 20th offer to publish her response, I have put Ms. St. Lewis in cc. This will also make Ms. St. Lewis fully aware of our exchange.

(2) Without implying guilt or blame on any party, I continue to seek a meeting to help clarify and resolve this matter, as I have indicated.

(3) In your today's email, you state "I have served you with two Notices demanding..." yet your letter of May 16, 2011, is the only paper communication that I have ever received from you (and in which you make no mention of a previous communication). Are you counting your email of 11:54am today as having served me a second "Notice"? Please clarify.

(4) Please clarify the nature of any legal action that you may be contemplating. I note that you do not refer to any specific law or legal principle that would have been violated. In the absence of any allegations of my having violated a specific common law or Act, please clarify the legal basis of the apology that you are now demanding and that was not mentioned in your letter of May 16, 2011.

(5) I am concerned that you or your client Joanne St. Lewis have obtained my unlisted personal home address. Please inform me how you obtained my personal information. In particular, I am concerned that my former employer the University of Ottawa could have illegally or improperly released my personal and former employee information to you and your client Joanne St. Lewis.

(6) Please acknowledge receiving the present email communication.

Denis Rancourt
On Mon, May 23, 2011 at 11:54 AM, Dearden, Richard wrote:

Mr. Rancourt - I have served you with two Notices demanding that you take down the defamatory statements you have published about my client. You refuse to do so.I will not consider any meeting with you until you take down your offensive statements. Let me be clear - there are no "possible misunderstandings" - you have published false and defamatory statements about Professor St. Lewis that have damaged her , must be retracted immediately and require an unequivocal apology from you. I strongly recommend that you retain a lawyer.

Richard Dearden
From: Denis Rancourt []
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 2:43 PM
To: Dearden, Richard
Subject: Re: U of O Watch Blog: Joanne St. Lewis / Your (Gowlings) letter of May 16, 2011

Richard G. Dearden
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP
(by email: richard.dearden@gowlings.com)

Re: U of O Watch Blog: Joanne St. Lewis / Your (Gowlings) letter of May 16, 2011

Dear Mr. Dearden,

(1) I am self-represented in this matter.

(2) Your law firm has legal specializations including in the area of protection of personal information. Therefore, you understand my concern that you or your client Joanne St. Lewis have obtained my unlisted personal home address. Please inform me how you obtained my personal information. In particular, I am concerned that my former employer the University of Ottawa could have illegally or improperly released my personal and former employee information to you and your client Joanne St. Lewis.

(3) The present matter about my U of O Watch blog and Joanne St. Lewis is one of public interest and I have and expect to continue to publicly report about it, as I have done here:

(4) Without implying guilt or blame on any party, as a self-represented individual, I request to informally meet with you as soon as is convevient in order to discuss and explore (1) informally resolving our possible misunderstandings, (2) the benefits of a possible apology regarding your client's feeling of having been offended by statements alleged to be racist, and (3) matters that you have raised.

(5) I was concerned by the possible negative societal impact of your client's apparent professional behaviour in relation to the SAC report but I am open to considering new facts and new reasoned interpretations in this matter and to correct my U of O Watch blog position accordingly.

(6) Please offer to your client Joanne St. Lewis that she write a response (to the U of O Watch post of expressed concern) that I will immediately publish without editorial changes in as conspicuous a place and type as was the alleged defamatory post. This response can include links to any supporting documents. I am also open to posting a guest op-ed by a third person selected by your client Joanne St. Lewis.

(7) In the week of Victoria Day, I am available May 25th and May 27th for our meeting. I am also available the week of May 30th (except June 1st).

(8) Please immediately acknowledge receiving the present email communication.

Denis Rancourt

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This message is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, or the employee or agent responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, you are notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify Gowlings immediately by email at postmaster@gowlings.com. Thank you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This message is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message may contain information that is privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, or the employee or agent responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, you are notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify Gowlings immediately by email at postmaster@gowlings.com. Thank you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rock's U of O is transparency-challenged, since 2007 media say

It's gotten to the point where the media have noticed it:

"Has topped academic list since 2007"
-- Ottawa Citizen, May 21, 2011

The University of Ottawa ("Canada's university"), under the Allan Rock administration, has had the most freedom-of-information law requests of any college or university in Ontario every year since 2007: 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

And by a long shot: Second place in 2010 was occupied by U of T (a much larger institution) which had half as many requests.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner's (IPC) Annual Report 2010 was recently posted HERE.

"Officials at the University of Ottawa struggled ... to explain..." (Citizen) and the media struggled to interpret... but it seems pretty clear to this observer:

The University of Ottawa is an overly secretive publicly funded institution -- hello...?

Indeed, much of its last ("Vision 2010") 5-year plan was about how it was going to post all committee meeting minutes to the web and the like and emphasize transparency - we are still waiting... Even senators on University Senate can't get the information they need to do their work: HERE.

The media failed to note that the IPC 2010 Report also put U of O in a few additional notorious categories:
  • more information law requests than any other college or university
  • third most legal appeals of its non-compliance for all agencies in Ontario, led only by Ontario Power Authority and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
  • only university or college to be found in "deemed refusal" for non-compliance
  • largest number of legal appeals for personal information requests of any agency in Ontario
Methinks the media are being soft on U of O and not digging very deeply into its "unique" institutional culture.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This blogpost has been removed

This blogpost has been removed on June 7, 2014, pursuant to a June 6, 2014 court order of Justice Michel Charbonneau, in the St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation lawsuit heard in Ottawa, as has been reported in the media.

The Defendant will appeal the court orders, if he is able to raise the money for the required court transcripts (approximately $20,000.), and if he can find a lawyer to act pro bono in the appeal that would be heard in Toronto.

LINK to the court orders from the trial.

Yet another human rights tribunal case tied to U of O awaits adjudication

THIS Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) Interim Decision shows yet another tribunal case of racism connected with "Canada's university", not previously reported in the media.

Nusrat Saleem

The Ottawa Hospital, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Dean Belway, Brian Henley, Debbie Hubble and Jason Kennedy

[1] This is an Application filed on May 7, 2010 under section 34 of Part IV of the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, as amended, (the “Code”). The applicant alleges that he was discriminated against on the basis of his race, colour, ancestry, place of origin and creed.
[2] The respondents have not filed a Response. By way of a Request for Order During Proceedings, filed July 6, 2010, they seek deferral of the Application pending the completion of a related grievance proceeding. This Interim Decision deals with the respondents’ Request.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Featured comment by former U of O professor Steve E Noble -- "Land of Rock"

Dr. Steve E. Noble was a full-time professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. Having left the U of O, he feels he has insights to share about the institution, such a this recent comment (below).

[Background posts HERE (label = APTPUO).]
[Recent related media articles: LINK, LINK.]

Steve E. Noble said...

More than anything, the part time prof crisis is being dealt with by an incredible level of unethical, iron-fisted sleaze...

1. The university is unilaterally imposing a cut to the part time union's membership by telling the union that it wants non-credit profs within the second language institute and the Faculty of Education to be removed from the bargaining unit. Why only those two areas - what about other faculties and programs? All part time non-credit profs do similar things - why not go after all non-credit profs? Could there be a Rock-Berger alliance?

2. Is this a manufactured financial crisis that is being used to "legitimize" the iron fist approach to repress part timers and gut the union contract?

3. Why are tenured faculty and administrators not facing compensation cuts? If, after all, the university is facing a "financial crisis"? Should the wealthiest and most secure not be the first to cut their compensation, rather than the poorest and most vulnerable frontline?

4. The most vulnerable employee group is facing a 66% pay cut, yet are expected to do the same or more work for less money? Is this reasonable? In the corporate world, a move like this would result in the corporation being faced with severe government sanctions. What is acceptable is salary freezes, not cuts.

5. And the MOST vulnerable of all -the very people the university SAYS is its focus, the students, face the greatest penalty. May 13 was the last day to withdraw from a summer course without financial penalty. So, if there is a lockout or strike the May 14 or May 17 makes students the biggest losers - but then, that's likely how the university wants it - keep student cash and make the part time profs the evil ones in the process by being constructed as "unreasonable" - a very old employer union strategy.

The more I read about U of O, the more I wish I had stayed out west teaching at university there - so much more progressive and where, heaven forbid, the success of the student-prof relationship is the focus. Something stinks in the Land of Rock.

May 14, 2011 9:00 AM

[Links added by UofOWatch.]

Friday, May 13, 2011

U of O and big pharma -- "Medication" for better life

The University of Ottawa has a statutory responsibility to serve community for the public good following "Christian principles". Would Jesus prescribe psychiatric drugs to students?

Will the University of Ottawa fund large-scale critical studies on the social impacts of psychiatric and behavioral drugs? Ritalin, Prozac, Paxil, ...?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

U of O union-busting posturing against part-time profs ends

After many students (reportedly as many as 500 at a recent information event) expressed concerns that the summer semester would be disrupted by a university-imposed lock out, the University of Ottawa has backed down from its intimidation tactics and returned to the bargaining table.

See the UofOWatch initial report HERE.

It appears the university was caught off guard by a well organized, immediate and firm public awareness response from the union of part-time professors (APTPUO).

The APTPUO put it this way on a public web site:

"On April 11th 2011, the University of Ottawa Bargaining Team walked away from the government-led conciliation process and instructed the Ontario Ministry of Labour to issue a “No Board” report – which means that by early May 2011, the University will be in a legal position to lock us out and the APTPUO will be in a legal position to strike.

During the course of conciliation meetings, the Employer rejected all submissions made by the APTPUO. The Employer would discuss only one issue, which was the Employer’s insistence that APTPUO professors who teach non-credit courses in the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute and the Faculty of Education be unilaterally excluded from the Union, thus losing all salary, benefits, and seniority provisions of the APTPUO Collective Agreement – or, that we accept a pay DECREASE of 66% for these members. This is not bargaining!"

Now the University of Ottawa has reconsidered its juvenile move and has sheepishly put out this press release: LINK. A joint statement appears to be a face-saving measure to facilitate the university's return to the bargaining table.

This episode has not exactly been an example of good faith on the part of the university employer, against its most underpaid professionals which provide almost 60% of the teaching at the institution.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rock attempt to manipulate senate minutes on Israel fails

University of Ottawa president Allan Rock tried to have the university Senate minutes changed via an unusual machination that in the end did not fly -- thanks to student senate member Joseph Hickey.

Hickey has reported the entire unfortunate episode on his blog about Senate: HERE.

The university videos of Senate also document Rock's incredible attempt to remove from the record the large numbers of abstentions in votes on motions questioning the University's academic involvement with the apartheid state of Israel, given the international call for an academic boycott of Israel.

It is remarkable the extent to which the Rock administration will go to participate-in and facilitate Israel's overt and explicit image war that has been termed "Brand Israel" -- an attempt to mask Israel's on-going war crimes (Geneva Conventions in occupied Gaza, etc.) using public opinion devices and cultural and academic collaborations.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ottawa university presidents Rock and Runte make a pair

Ottawa has two universities that market themselves with grand titles:

"Canada's Capital University" (aka Carleton U)

"Canada's university" (aka U of Ottawa)

Both can now reasonably be said to be run by ethically challenged individuals.

U of O Allan Rock's media title of being "ethically challenged" is well deserved and dates back (2003) to his fishing-vacation political days (that ended his political career...): LINK. (And list of ethical breaches.)

Now Carleton U's Roseann Runte is joining the ranks of ethically challenged university presidents in Ottawa, due to revelations in a stunning bribery and extortion legal battle unfolding in the United States: LINK. (The allegations have not been proved in court, but there is unambiguous testimony from a former dean.)

How do the governance boards of these universities choose these brave public servants? Do they use Google? Are the candidates interviewed about their pasts?

MEDIA UPDATE (May 11, 2011):
Guilty verdict in U.S. trial tied to Carleton U prez
(it appears somebody lied to the court...)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

U of O media relations manager on academic freedom in national press

The National Post has recently quoted the new University of Ottawa manager of media relations Vincent Lamontagne at length regarding Lamontagne's vacuous views on academic freedom.

The NP article (HERE) ends this way:

University of Ottawa spokesman Vincent Lamontagne defended the school, saying the “quality of the student experience” is its No. 1 concern.

“The University of Ottawa strongly believes in academic freedom and is proud of the practical knowledge given to its students by its outstanding professors and researchers,” he wrote in an email to Postmedia News.

He said the university has established itself as a “well-renowned centre for international relations studies.

“Our professors are proven experts in international politics and encourage in-class discussions of actual political situations from all around the world.”

By "our professors" does Lamontagne mean the part-time professors that teach 60% of the courses and that the university has recently threatened with lock out (HERE)?

At the University of Ottawa it appears that the message is highly managed and that the visible expert on academic freedom is the media relations manager.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rancourt case -- Arbitration hearing day 1 -- Report

A good day for transparency and public accountability

See short background summary HERE.

Today, May 2, 2011, was the first day of binding arbitration hearings in Rancourt's union (APUO) vs University of Ottawa, re: Rancourt's 2009 dismissal.

The university is represented by lawyer Lynn Harnden. The APUO is represented by lawyer Sean McGee. Arbitrator Claude Foisy is presiding. Each side was additionally supported by several more lawyers and staff.

Approximately thirty members of the public and media representatives were present for the hearing (media link).

Under these conditions, Harnden stated that the university would not attempt to block media access and that the university acknowledged the public interest in the case. These were immediate victories.

This means that the full hearings will be open to the public and to the media.

In the past, the university has been camera shy at labour arbitration hearings, has argued against audio-visual recording, and has been known to leave the room to avoid being photographed (LINK) and to request that its pictures be removed from this blog (LINK). Not in this hearing. The cameras clicked and the videos rolled during the entire session.

Another victory was also easily won, regarding "discoveries". Discovery is the legal obligation to disclose all relevant documents before hearing the legal arguments.

The University had previously argued to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) that it would oppose a broad discovery process (HERE, page-13, point-13):

"[It is] submitted that the Applicant is not entitled to an order for document disclosure in preparation for arbitration because such remedy would result in irreparable harm to the Responding Party. Furthermore, the balance of harm favours a refusal of such remedy on an interim basis. If the documents were disclosed now that would effectively decide the issue of document disclosure. However, there would be no harm or prejudice to the Applicant if he had to wait intil after the ULP Application was determined for disclosure and/or until an arbitrator considered the issue of document disclosure at arbitration."

In fact, the arbitrator did not need to "consider the issue" because the university backed down and had already agreed with the union side before the hearing started that a proper document disclosure of "all arguably relevant documents" was acceptable. A full disclosure process is therefore in effect.

University intends to rely on "post-termination evidence":

Somewhat disturbingly, at the hearing Harnden announced that the university would seek to use "post-dismissal evidence" both to justify its dismissal of Rancourt and to argue that even if Rancourt's dismissal was found to be not warranted that his reinstatement would nonetheless need to be "assessed".

Harnden further explained that the university would seek special "enriched" guarantees or constraints regarding "exclusion of witnesses." Both sides agreed that the latter arguments for and against such "enrichment" would be made in writing to the arbitrator.

When McGee clarified that the latter written submissions would - like the hearing itself - be public, Harnden replied that he would "take this under advisement", which means that he does not agree and that the public nature of the legal arguments may need to be ordered by the arbitrator before he complies.

Therefore, the university will seek to make extensive use of post-termination evidence and evidence of Rancourt's post-termination "conduct" to justify its termination of Rancourt and Rancourt's permanent exclusion from campus.

It will be interesting to learn which "conduct" the university views as worthy of such consideration that would bar a tenured professor from campus allegedly for applying a new teaching method in one advanced physics course in his research area of expertize.

We hope that Mr. Harnden's intent is not to block or constrain the publication of the present blog.

Rancourt accused of "arranging" for videographer to film Harnden's laptop:

In another strange incident, Harnden gratuitously stated to the arbitrator that Rancourt had "arranged" for Algonquin College film program coordinator Peter Biesterfeld to film Harnden's laptop during the hearing. Biesterfeld stated to the arbitrator that he had not filmed Harnden's laptop. Harnden clarified that there was nothing of importance on his laptop screen.

Rancourt would like to affirm that he did not and does not "arrange" Peter Biesterfeld or any other videographer or media person and that he does not wish to see what is on Lynn Harnden's laptop.

Next step:

The next hearing date is scheduled for October 12, 2011. Disclosures are expected to be completed early this summer. The issue of Harnden's "enrichment" is also expected to be decided by the arbitrator before the next hearing date.

Extensive background information is provided HERE.