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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Allan Rock distances himself from family’s medical marijuana business

Former minister of health uses his name to secure a government license for family business, while still university president, in view of Liberal party plan to legalize marijuana...


"Rock – whose term as president and vice-chancellor of the university ends next year – offered an explanation for why he is listed as the president and a director of the numbered company.

“The only reference to my name in this matter is related to the home I jointly own with my wife. The home was used as collateral to finance the purchase of a parcel of land for the proposed project,” he said.

“The purchased land was placed in a separate company and, as co-owner of the home, I became a director of that company, whose only purpose is to hold title to the property: that does not mean in any way that I am involved in the licence application or the proposed business.”

He says his sole focus is on his job at the university."

Possibly relevant flashback: "[Rock's] behaviour since the Irving affair became public has revealed him to be ethically challenged. […] it took Rock days to apologize. And he only grudgingly did so after Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw rose in the Commons and offered an unqualified apology for accepting a ride on the Irving corporate jet three years ago. She also announced she was reimbursing the family for the flight."
Ottawa Citizen, November 8, 2003, page 1.

Allan Rock, president of U of Ottawa, involved in medical marijuana business

Allan Rock, president of U of Ottawa, involved in medical marijuana business (LINK)

by Haley Ritchie, Metro News, May 19, 2015

Comment: Now if Justin were to be elected and legalizes (as opposed to decriminalizes) marijuana, this little business venture could really take off, and the campus bars could soon recover a 1960s feel. The new Rock family business appears to be a hopeful bet on Trudeau?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Professor Mark Mercer asks Attorney General to intervene to protect the right to freedom of expression in Ontario

OCLA press release: ENGLISH / FRANCAIS

The letter is posted here: OCLA-LINK.

May 19, 2015

The Attorney General of Ontario
Constitutional Law Branch
4th floor
720 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2K1
fax: (416) 326-4015

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur:

Re:    Notice of Constitutional Question, Court of Appeal for Ontario File No. C59074
    St. Lewis v. Rancourt

The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) is a proponent of freedom of expression for all Ontarians, on all issues. OCLA is concerned that freedom of expression is in decline in Ontario.

You have been served with a Notice of Constitutional Question (“Notice”), in the above-cited appeal that is listed to be heard in Toronto on Friday, June 26, 2015. A copy of the Notice is attached.

The questions raised in the Notice are vital constitutional questions about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee of freedom of opinion and expression for all citizens of Ontario.

Defamation law is the main legal instrument used to infringe or deny the Charter right of freedom of opinion and expression, and it is the dominant government-sponsored source of chill against free expression in our society.

OCLA asks that you intervene in this appeal in order to protect the Charter right of expression for all citizens of Ontario. This is particularly important because the defendant/appellant in this case is self-represented, while being opposed by a major law firm being financed without limit using public money.

The common law tort of defamation is in direct opposition to the Charter right of expression, and it is the only tort in which both malice (of defamation) and damages are presumed, rather than needing to be proved by the plaintiff. In this tort, the defendant has a reverse onus to show that the particular defamation is protected by law by virtue of a pleaded common law or statutory defence.

Under such legal circumstances, it was an egregious violation of the appellant’s Charter right of expression for the trial judge to refuse to put the defendant’s defences to the jury, which were pleaded defences that were never struck out, and for which there was ample supporting evidence on the trial record.

OCLA asks that you make a representation in this appeal that barring pleaded and standing defences in a defamation trial is incompatible with the Charter right to freedom of opinion and expression.

The second of three constitutional issues in the Notice is that the recent common law of permanent injunctions (permanent gag orders), against a defendant following a finding of defamation, includes permanent prohibitions of unknown expression, and is thus unconstitutional.

The said common law has never been challenged previously in an appellate court in Canada.

This unfortunate recent development in Canadian common law is at odds with Canadian values of freedom of expression, and the said common law expressly discriminates on the basis of financial means.

OCLA asks that you make a representation in this appeal that the said recent common law of permanent injunction in defamation cases is incompatible with both Charter and Ontario values.

Finally, the Notice challenges the constitutionality of massive costs of trial against an individual defendant, opposed by unlimited public money, in a defamation case.

The excessive chill on expression from extravagant defamation-trial costs ordered against a defendant, while not actually paid by a private plaintiff, is evident. In this case, the trial court permanently barred a blogger from future unknown expression because he has no money, and then turned around and ordered him to pay the huge legal costs of trial, even though the costs had already been paid in full using public money.

Furthermore, such a costs order, in the circumstances of this case, is in violation of Canada’s (and Ontario’s) obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

OCLA asks that you make a representation in this appeal to argue that costs such as those ordered in the circumstances of this case are an unreasonable suppression of the Charter right of freedom of opinion and expression.

Your contributions in this appeal are essential to ensure that the law constraining the Charter right of freedom of opinion and expression is consistent with the values of Ontario’s free and democratic society, and with international obligations.

Yours truly,

Mark Mercer, PhD
Chair, Department of Philosophy, Saint Mary’s University
President, Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship
Member, OCLA Advisory Board

Department of Philosophy
Saint Mary’s University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS
B3H 3C3

Ontario Civil Liberties Association
180 Metcalfe Street, Suite 204
Ottawa, ON
K2P 1P5

(Letter footnotes are excluded, see link for original.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

St. Lewis v. Rancourt -- Notice of Constitutional Question

This (LINK) is the May 12, 2015, Notice of Constitutional Question, in the appeal listed to be heard on June 26, 2015, at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, in Toronto; in the defamation case St. Lewis v. Rancourt.

The Notice is to inform the Attorney General of Canada, and the Attorney General of Ontario, that the appeal will include constitutional claims or challenges, which are described in the Notice.

There are three claims argued in the Notice:

  1. That the trial judge infringed or denied the defendant's Charter right to freedom of opinion and expression when he barred the jury from considering any of the pleaded defences.
  2. That the ordered permanent injunction for unknown expression is unconstitutional.
  3. That the costs of trial infringe the Charter right to freedom of opinion and expression, and are a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

All/most court-filed documents in the appeal are HERE.

The factums (arguments) for the appeal are linked HERE.

The full court transcript of the trial is linked HERE.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

St. Lewis v. Rancourt -- Court Reporter Transcript of the Entire Trial


There were 15 days (or partial-days) of hearings in the trial in the case Joanne St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt, including all trial motions and jury selection.

The first day was a hearing of a defendant's (Rancourt) recusal motion, heard on May 7, 2014. The last day of trial was the judge's reading of his reasons in making a permanent injunction against the defendent, on June 6, 2014.

The entire official court reporter's transcript of all the hearings in the trial is available HERE.

Rancourt and a few other participants spoke in French, and the court's language-interpretation from French to English (done on the fly) is included in the transcripts.


Justice Michel Z. Charbonneau, trial judge

Richeard Dearden, plaintiff's lead lawyer
Anastasia Semenova, plaintiff's lawyer
Peter Doody, lawyer for the University of Ottawa, opposing the defendent

Denis Rancourt, self-represented defendant


Joanne St. Lewis, plaintiff

Allan Rock, president of the University of Ottawa
Camille Nelson, expert witness
Charlynne MacCharles, plaintiff's counselor
Bruce Feldthusen, former dean of common law section, University of Ottawa
Denis Laberge, plaintiff's brother-in-law
Jacqueline Yvette Beckles, department of justice lawyer and plaintiff's friend
John Curie, law professor, University of Ottawa
Robert Major, former VP-Academic, University of Ottawa
Saron Gebresellasi, law student, University of Ottawa
Sileen St. Lewis, plaintiff's mother

* * *

The CanLII interlocutory, trial, and appeal rulings in the case are here:

Links to all/most court-filed documents in the case are here:

An appeal hearing has been listed at the Court of Appeal for Ontario for June 26, 2015, at 10:30 AM. See links to factums (arguments) on appeal in THIS blogpost.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Joanne St. Lewis v. Denis Rancourt -- Appeal will be heard in June 2015

The appeal from the trial decision in St. Lewis v. Rancourt was recently listed to be heard at the Court of Appeal for Ontario on June 26, 2015, at 10:30 AM.

The self-represented appellant's factum (Rancourt's argument) on appeal is HERE. The factum summary reads:

SUMMARY — In this defamation trial, among other errors, the judge circumvented the jury by saying that the defendant (a blogger) had “no defence”. The judge said: “The defendant here has not introduced any evidence establishing a defence. Therefore, there is no defence for you to consider.” In fact, the defendant had explained his defences to the jury on the first day of trial and more than sufficient evidence to establish his defences was entered by the plaintiff while the defendant was present.

The respondent's (St. Lewis's) responding factum is HERE

The private respondent's/plaintiff's legal-costs are entirely funded by the non-party University of Ottawa. The defendant's pre-trial motion that this funding was improper and constituted maintenance and champerty was dismissed prior to trial. (See court documents HERE.)

The appellant made two motions to the Court of Appeal, which were determined prior to the listing for hearing of the appeal:

1. A first motion was for the appellant to obtain non-public communications made during trial between the defendant's lawyer and the trial judge. This motion was dismissed. The motions judge decided not to order disclosure of the communications.

2. A second motion was to overturn a Registrar's decision, based on a technicality, to not accept the filing of the appellant's supplementary factum respecting costs of the trial, in which it was argued that the costs were unconstitutional. The motion was dismissed and the supplementary factum (HERE) was denied filing.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

This gameshow host gave cash to U of O. Who is Alex Trebek?

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has building at the University of Ottawa named in his honour --Ottawa Citizen

  • Mr. Rock deceived the student body and university community regarding donation ethics
In the fall of 2009 Allan Rock put on a series of show panels as a mock consultation to prepare an upcoming administrative policy for “donor recognition”. The policy was to be presented “within weeks” (LINK). It never materialized.

There was a tacit understanding that large donations would not be accepted until the new policy was developed and instituted.

On June 22, 2010, the University announced a 3.5 million dollar anonymous donation for a research chair in business management, anonymous no less (LINK).

It seems to us that anonymity would be an important discussion point in any “donor recognition” or donation ethics policy.

Since that time, Mr. Rock has always found a way to make these announcements after the academic year, when the students are gone and are in no position to express their views on the selling and buying of the U of O name.

It appears that the U of O doesn't mind not training brain surgeons (LINK), and wants to train more gameshow hosts.

Monday, May 4, 2015

U of O receives notice of intent to withdraw accreditation of neurosurgery program

U of O receives notice of intent to withdraw accreditation of neurosurgery program
--Don Butler, Ottawa Citizen, May 4, 2015

U of O Watch has learned: 

This is the second notice of possible loss of accreditation that the U of O residency program in neurosurgery has received in the last 5 years.

In those 5 years, three directors of the program have resigned: John Sinclair, Richard Moulton, and, most recently (after receiving the latest notice), Charles Agbi (see staff list).

Also in those 5 years, the program hired a needed star neurosurgeon, in the person of Dr. Amin Kassam, but failed to retain Dr. Kassam, who stayed very briefly.

This is the program that in 2011 fired an MD allegedly for leading a human rights complaint, according to a leaked email which is on the public court record (see articles tagged "medicine").

(Sinclair / Moulton / Agbi)