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, July 22, 2012

Why donate to my Legal Fund?

This is an appeal to donate to my legal fund (the Denis Rancourt Legal Fund) in order to provide a moderately fair trial in what some observers have characterized as a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) against me.

I am committed to obtaining justice but justice is illusive when there is a large asymmetry of means between the opposing parties. At this point I will have exhausted all my financial savings within a month or so.

I was wrongly fired in 2009 from my tenured full professorship in physics at the University of Ottawa by a president, Allan Rock, who had a personal mission to get me.  He instructed his executives and hired lawyers to fire me, and this was executed without due process.

Under false pretence, in November 2008, my students and I were locked out of our laboratory and offices without warning.

My research associate of 12 years was summarily fired (she sued and won a settlement).

The laboratory was dismantled before I was even informed of the mock procedure to fire me that was initiated in December 2008 when I was banned from campus, again without notice, under police escort. 

The false pretext used was that I had fraudulently assigned grades in one advanced physics course in the winter 2008 semester. The University’s main witness at a recent hearing admitted under oath that the university had no evidence for this for any student.

The real reason that Allan Rock wants to shut me down may be my (this) “U of O Watch” blog and its persistent criticism of university management and executives, including: criticism of the university’s treatments of students, criticism of Rock’s on-going career dealings, criticisms of administrators and colleagues who, in my view, act against public and/or student interests, exposing executive malfeasance such as doctoring documents “to make a point”, and so on.

The true reasons for firing me may also include: my development of a new and highly popular “activism course”, my weekly “cinema politica” public event on campus, my weekly on-going campus radio show, inviting critical speakers into my classes, my liberating pedagogical methods focussed on learning rather than obedience, my continued invitations in university classrooms as an invited intervener, and so on.

Rock hoped that firing me would be the end of me:

“With any luck, firing him will get him off campus …”
       -- December 15, 2008 email, Allan Rock to staff

After firing me at an executive meeting that he chaired on March 31, 2009, Rock continued to express his views about me and to search for ways to “get the facts out”:

“Far from having had ‘an impeccable pedagogical career’, Rancourt has spent the last several years undermining pedagogy, denying students access to an education and engaging in a cynical mockery of the whole education process; and

Rancourt is trafficking in fictions to try to save his own skin while recklessly and irresponsibly creating tensions in Ottawa’s religious communities. (As to ‘fiction’, I refer to the example of his lying about me going to Israel last July.)

How best to get the facts out?


      -- April 19, 2009 email, Allan Rock to Bruce Feldthusen (then VP, now dean of common law)

In what I believe to be the latest episode to “get Rancourt”, Allan Rock has, following a “recommendation” from Bruce Feldthusen, personally agreed to entirely finance – without a spending limit – a private $ 1 million defamation lawsuit against me, for a blogpost on my “U of O Watch” blog. The private litigant did not contact a lawyer until after the agreement for unlimited funding was made – according to sworn testimonies given in my recent court motion to dismiss the action (ref).

Irrespective of the legal merits of the defamation claim and irrespective of the legal merits of my defence, the plaintiff’s unlimited funding is such that, as an unsalaried self-represented defendant, I find myself pitted against two major law firms (Gowlings and BLG), thus creating a Charter breach to my fundamental rights (ref, at paragraphs 61 to 67).

The legal process is complex and expensive. I am working hard to learn the theory and practice of litigation.

Even if I do not pay legal fees to a lawyer representing me, there are court and proceeding costs, and, most importantly, each time I lose an interim procedural motion I must pay the legal costs of the opponents. On some motions, the University of Ottawa itself is a second opponent (using the BLG law firm).

There have been over ten such motions (or mini-trials) to date and I will soon (this month or next) have exhausted my life savings at this point. If I win a motion, the other side argues that I need not have costs because I am self-represented.

It is obvious to me now that a minimum degree of justice requires at least a minimum of funding.

At stake is freedom of expression on matters of public interest (here, namely, the possibility of systemic racism at the University of Ottawa). At stake is access to justice. At stake is fundamental fairness in the justice system itself in treating self-represented litigants. At stake is the need for SLAPP-informed funding rules in private civil litigation in Ontario.

Please contribute to my legal fund. All donations go to my legal costs to obtain a just treatment before the courts. All court documents are posted to the web.

(LINK: Donate, Legal Fund -- donate web page)

Related articles:

This is what targeting a dissident tenured professor looks like in Canada

Hearings into dismissal of Rancourt reveal much

TVO (TV Ontario) interview with Denis Rancourt:

Monday, July 2, 2012

St. Lewis v. Rancourt::: IN A NUTSHELL

This is a brief explanation of the St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation lawsuit presently before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

SUMMARY -- In 2008 the student union released a public report about systemic racism at the University of Ottawa. The University asked a black professor expert to assess the student report in a responding public report. The expert found that there was no basis for affirming systemic racism at the University of Ottawa. A white former physics professor runs a blog critical of the University of Ottawa and of its (white) president. The physics professor was critical of the expert's report in a 2008 blogpost. After the student union released relevant access to information documents in 2011, the physics professor blogged again stating that the access to information documents suggested that the expert had [COURT ORDER]. The expert obtained funding for a lawsuit from the university president, and then sued the physics professor for $1 million in a defamation action, without disclosing the university funding. The university was later obliged to disclose its involvement and the president's role in the on-going lawsuit.

Denis Rancourt is a former tenured Full Professor of physics, University of Ottawa. He has run the "U of O Watch" blog, critical of the University of Ottawa, since 2007. Rancourt was dismissed from his full professorship in 2009, after 23 years. The dismissal is presently in binding labour arbitration where the hearings are scheduled to continue until June 2013.

In 2008, the student union at the University of Ottawa published a report ("the SAC report", Student Appeal Centre) alleging systemic racism in the University's treatment of academic fraud, based on the SAC's data and on case studies. This SAC report immediately attracted media attention.

The University asked tenured Assistant Professor of law Joanne St. Lewis, then Director of the University's Human Rights Research and Education Centre, to write an evaluation ("the St. Lewis report") of the SAC report. The completed St. Lewis report was announced on the University web site and Professor St. Lewis did media interviews about her report.

The St. Lewis report was critical of the SAC report, found, in part, that

"The short answer for this evaluator on whether there is systemic racism in the administration of the Academic Fraud process at the University of Ottawa is: I don’t know. What I do know, is that this report does not establish this in any measurable or analytically plausible fashion."

and made ten recommendations, as "The Way Forward".

In 2008, Rancourt made a critical assessment of the St. Lewis report on his blog. The post was entitled "Rock Administration Prefers to Confuse “Independent” with “Internal” Rather Than Address Systemic Racism".

In 2011, the SAC posted documents about the St. Lewis report, which it had obtained via an access to information request, to the SAC blog.

In 2011, Rancourt posted another blog article critical of the St. Lewis report, based on the newly released access to information documents. This second blog article was entitled "[COURT ORDER]" and it stated, in part (see p.9, HERE):


The later blogpost gave rise to a $1 million defamation lawsuit against Rancourt, initiated by St. Lewis, see June 23, 2011 Statement of Claim.

As one defence, Rancourt argued that if this lawsuit was a proxy lawsuit by the University, then it violated his Charter rights by suppressing his criticism of a public institution, see p.20-21 of the Statement of Defence.

Rancourt sought to discover if the University of Ottawa was funding the St. Lewis litigation. This question was pursued and even was asked at the University's Senate via a student senator's motion (LINK).

The University replied on October 25, 2011, via hired lawyer David Scott, that it was indeed funding the St. Lewis litigation against Rancourt. A report on the efforts to obtain this reply is here: LINK. Scott's letter states, in part:

"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."

Following this reply, Rancourt brought a motion that the action be stayed or dismissed for abuse of process (see Notice of Motion). The later motion is presently in process (LINK to report about motion).

As part of the later "champerty" motion, Rancourt cross-examined university president Allan Rock who testified under oath that he had made the decision in April 2011 to fund the St. Lewis lawsuit "without a cap" (with no funding limit) from the University's operating budget (see Transcript of the cross-examination).

Rancourt's "champerty" motion will be heard on August 29, 2011, following Rancourt's on-going "refusals and productions" motion to obtain answers that the cross-examined witnesses have refused to give.

In the first day of Rancourt's "refusals and productions" motion, on June 20, 2012, Rancourt was not allowed to cross-examine a recent affiant put forward by the University of Ottawa to counter the "refusals and productions" motion. In addition, Rancourt had put forward an expert's affidavit to establish the authenticity of a document showing a March 2012 email communication from Allan Rock to St. Lewis' counsel Richard Dearden. The expert's affidavit was stated to be inadmissible for reasons that Rancourt expects will be explained in the Judge's decision about the "refusals and productions" motion.

The "refusals and productions" motion resumes in court on July 24, 2012.