University of Ottawa Racism, Censorship and Abuse of Power
by Stephen Lendman
In June 2008, Allan Rock became university president. He’s a former Canadian politician and UN ambassador. He’s a pro-Israeli flack. He supports its worst crimes.
His administration is unprincipled. It’s marked by secrecy, political censorship, abuse of power, and repudiation of fundamental university values.
He targets academic and speech freedoms. He violates Canadian law.
Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:
“Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.”
Article 7 assures “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person and the right not to be deprived thereof in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
Hardline rule is university policy. What Rocks says goes. Faculty and student activists are targeted, vilified, persecuted, suspended and dismissed.
Marc Kelly was an exemplary student. In October 2008, he was deregistered, expelled for a semester, and prevented from completing his final three courses to graduate.
His legitimate research was rejected. He was never contacted or questioned. He was targeted for supporting tenured Professor Denis Rancourt.
In September 2008, Rock got the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors (EBOG) to suspend him. In December, he recommended dismissing him. He wanted him barred him from campus.
In March 2009, he fired him. He targeted his principled activism. He supports Palestinian rights. He does so honorably. Rock cited his creative teaching methods. They deserve praise, not condemnation.
Rancourt is a distinguished physics professor. He’s an expert in his field. He’s a respected environmental science researcher. Students called him a “phenomenal teacher.” His pedagogical methods work. Student achievement proved it.
Rock’s game plan was get Rancourt. He fired him for supporting right over wrong. He couldn’t do so for legitimate reasons. Contrived ones were invented. His teaching methods had nothing to do with it.
Rock ordered campus police to bar him from campus. Orders said remove him if he shows up. That’s how despots operate. Rock runs U of O more like a police state than university. Education and learning suffer.
U of O Law Professor Joanne St. Lewis is complicit. She colluded with Rock. She did so against Rancourt. She sued him for $1 million. She charged racism. Doing so was spurious.
Her relationship with Rock is unprincipled. Rancourt called her his “house negro.” He did so for good reason. He cited Malcolm X. In 1963, Malcolm first used the term.
St. Lewis had no justification to sue. Rock put her up to it. U of O pays her legal expenses. Rancourt’s on his own. He’s up against two of Canada’s largest law firms.
He’s holding his own. He’s doing so with limited finances. His U of O Watch blog posts regular updates. It includes other vital postings.
It has information on his legal fund. Since 2009, he’s been nonsalaried. Litigation drained his savings. He appreciates whatever help readers can afford. It’s for a good cause. It supports his struggle for justice. It’s about right over wrong.
U of O is a hotbed of racist autocratic extremism. Rock made it that way. A November 2011 lawsuit said so. A January 2012 press release explained.
Foreign medical students face systemic discrimination. Medical residents sued for damages. Their fundamental rights were violated.
They charged conspiracy to injure, public office malfeasance, defamation, intimidation, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, breach of contract, U of O liability for negligence and breach of contract, vicarious liability, and violations of the 1990 Human Rights Code.
Rock and St. Lewis are equal opportunity offenders. Hazel Gashoka is targeted. In 2012, she earned a U of O honors BA. She’s a Wilfrid Laurier University graduate student.
She’s Black. She’s a social justice activist. At U of O, she was a university senate representative. She learned about campus racism firsthand. Student union members reported it.
It drew public attention. Rock and other university administrators were embarrassed. St. Lewis was enlisted to help.
She’s Black. She teaches civil liberties, social justice, comparative South African and Canadian constitutional law, critical race theory, history of legal thought, and criminal justice administration.
She co-chaired the Canadian Bar Association Working Group on Racial Equality.
She addressed accusations of campus racism. Whitewash substituted for honest assessment. She called charges exaggerated. Doing so ignored prima facie evidence.
She alleged “significant methodological errors.” She cited an “apparent lack of understanding of the administrative processes of the university.”
She claimed it showed a “complete failure to conduct a systemic analysis in support of its conclusions of systemic racism.”
She said at most a miniscule percent of U of O’s population too small to matter is affected. Doing so ignored systematic racist abuse.
Rancourt criticized her assessment. So did Gashoka. She made a six-minute YouTube video. She said St. Lewis ran cover for Rock.
A notice of libel followed. It threatens suing for defamation. Attorney Richard Dearden sent it. He’s senior litigation partner in Gowlings’ Ottawa office. It’s one of Canada’s largest law firms.
It demanded Gashoka “immediately take down (her) defamatory video from (her) website and any other location it has been published.”
It demanded she suppress truth. She was “advised to preserve and maintain all records and communication….regarding the production and publication of (her) video.”
Gashoka went public. On February 11, she addressed Rock and U of O senate members. “Does the University of Ottawa plan on funding a lawsuit against me,” she asked? She entitled to know.
In November 2012, she advised St. Lewis of her video. She posted it on her blog. She requested comments or corrections. No response followed.
Weeks later, a notice of libel arrived. Her open letter responded. “Please confirm that the University of Ottawa will not be funding a defamation lawsuit against me,” she requested.
She included links to her video and notice of libel. Rancourt calls it “morally wrong for (U of O) and St. Lewis to try to silence” her.
“Using public funds and student tuition money to fund repressive litigation against her would be ironic, as the university claims to promote discourse and debate on matters of public interest.”
Canadian law affirms free expression and opinion. Gashoka is entitled to express her views freely. St. Lewis has no right to expect immunity from justifiable criticism.
Rancourt “call(ed) on (Rock) to state publicly, without further delay, that the university will not fund a lawsuit against (Gashoka) for her video, and to clarify the university’s criteria for funding lawsuits against its critics.”
Gashoka announced a February 27 press conference. Media representatives and other interested parties are invited to attend. It’s scheduled for 11AM at U of O’s Rotunda of Tabaret Hall.
She’ll address her video, litigation threat, St. Lewis’ U of O racism dismissiveness, and related issues.
A Final Comment
Rancourt’s new book addresses racism. It’s titled “Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism.”
Cynthia McKinney praised the book. It “turn(s) the entire notion of RACISM on its head,” she said.
At the same time, it “exposes racist acts committed by others to deflect that characterization from sticking at the highest levels of The Academy.”
“North American civil rights defenders need this book,” she added.
“Rancourt’s deeply incisive Fight Against Racism brings us back to the reality of the struggle, away from the manoeuvering for class advantage and away from the victim’s desire to create illusions of state-given justice.”
Rancourt asks key questions. They need to be raised. Billions of people are dehumanized. Censorship conceals it.
America lost all earlier civil rights gains. Canada appears no better. Things now are worse than ever. Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” addressed it.
She calls today’s Jim Crow a modern-day racial caste system. Elitists designed it. They embrace colorblindness. They claim poor Blacks are dangerous and economically superfluous.
America’s gulag is an instrument of control. Lock-em-up to do so. America’s most vulnerable are grossly mistreated.
They’re victimized by get tough on crime policies, guilt by accusation, three strikes and you’re out, racist drug laws, poverty, unemployment, and advocacy for social justice challenging repressive state power.
Academia is no safe haven. U of O isn’t alone. It’s one of the worst under Rock. Racism, censorship, abuse of power, and institutionalized injustice define his administration. He enforces what no one should tolerate.
Principled activists suffer. Struggling for justice isn’t easy. Constitutional rights aren’t negotiable. Rancourt, Gashoka, and likeminded activists won’t roll over for injustice. Nor should anyone else.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.