Injustice defines Western
societies. America long ago spurned rule of law principles. Canada marches
Democratic values are quaint and dying. So are honor, integrity, righteousness,
and believing right over wrong matters.
Even university officials and complicit staff members are tainted. Academia
proves not so hallowed ground.
Denis Rancourt is a distinguished tenured University of Ottawa physics
professor. He's a recognized expert in his field.
His students called him a "phenomenal teacher." His classrooms provided
an enriching learning experience. He inspired student confidence and
He also champions equity, justice, and human rights. Political activism
led to his dismissal. On U of O's campus, it's not safe to advocate
right over wrong.
Beginning in September 2005, university officials targeted him unfairly.
They oppose his support for Palestinian rights. They're some of the
world's most oppressed people.
They live under militarized occupation hell. Institutionalized racism
harms them. Israeli state terror is policy. Palestinians are treated
like subhumans. Their crime is praying to the wrong God.
Rancourt eloquently supports them. He also expresses views forthrightly
on political and environmental issues, professional ethics, lobbying,
scoundrel media influence, and the right of all persecuted people to
He does it in articles, broadcasts, blog postings, at public venues,
and in classrooms when he taught. He did the right thing and got punished.
In 2007, he criticized the university's irresponsible pro-Israeli position.
In response, administration officials targeted him unfairly.
On June 3, 2008, Allan Rock became president. He's a former Canadian
politician, UN ambassador, and staunch Israeli supporter.
As UN ambassador, he voted against supporting Palestinian rights. As
U of O president, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association reprimanded
his banning a student poster about Israeli Apartheid Week.
The student-run Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) supports
Palestinian rights. Rock pressured a student union president into distancing
the organization from OPIRG.
Rock's unprincipled pro-Israeli position puts him at odds with human
rights advocates like Rancourt.
In September 2008, he instructed his executives and hired lawyers to
target Rancourt. By November 2008, he and his graduate students were
locked out of their laboratory. Their equipment was dismantled.
By December 2008, Rancourt was suspended and removed from campus under
Rock launched a personal vilification and persecution campaign. He went
all out to get Rancourt.
In March 2009, he was fired. His office books and research files were
crated and removed.
Rock runs U of O like a police state. Academic priorities are secondary
to wealth, power and imperial interests. Students and faculty alike
are targeted for supporting issues he and like-minded extremists spurn.
Fundamental international and Canadian laws don't matter.
Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a constitutional
bill of rights, 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."
Academic and speech freedoms are inviolable. Without them all others
are at risk. America spurns them with impunity. So does Canada and university
officials like Rock.
Spurious pedagogical reasons were used to fire Rancourt. Claiming them
was sham cover for political persecution. Rancourt explained as follows:
"I was fired under the false pretext of having arbitrarily assigned
high grades in one course in the winter 2008 semester."
In doing so, "the university had to dispense with due process. In the
words of the professors' union's lawyer, my dismissal was 'both a denial
of substantive and procedural rights....and a contravention of the basic
principles of natural justice.' "
His "critical pedagogy" focused on learning. It rejected regurgitating
professorial views for high grades. Most Western university classrooms
operate their way. Doing so betrays students who come to learn and become
better prepared for adult life.
Political activism led to Rancourt's firing. His teaching methods had
nothing to do with it.
He became persona non grata. Weeks before his dismissal, he learned
that university officials used a "fast track process" against him. They
wouldn't engage him in dialogue. They refused to appoint a committee
of his peers to evaluate him.
Rock ordered him hung out to dry. Methods used against him would make
They included covert tactics, false pretense inquiries, a student spy,
and professional reporters enlisted to produce transcripts of his academic
and professional talks at other universities to use against him.
It may have been the first time a university used a student to spy on
a professor and like-minded students.
The student hired reported directly to Rancourtís dean and to U of O's
Legal Counsel. Doing so violates Canadian and international law.
The game plan was get Rancourt. Underhanded, devious, lawless practices
were used. They couldn't fire him on legitimate grounds because there
were none. So contrived reasons were invented instead. Doing so violated
legal, ethical and moral principles.
Rock colluded with Israeli Lobby efforts. At issue was institutionalizing
ideological extremism on campus. Outliers are targeted for removal.
Rancourt became U of O's public enemy number one.
He called what went on emerging fascism. It's virulent in politics and
at universities. Under Rock, it infests U of O's campus. His administration
relegates academic freedom to quaint artifact status.
Only what he says goes. Violate that rule and get fired. That's how
despots operate. Rock does them proud.
Democratic values are persona non grata on his watch. U of O is a hotbed
of autocratic extremism. It's inhospitable to academic freedom. Learning
U of O Law Professor Joanne St. Lewis colluded with him against
Rancourt. Last year, she sued for $1 million for comments about her
on Rancourtís blog. She charged racism. Doing so was spurious.
At issue was her unprofessional relationship with Rock. The student
union released a public report about systemic U of O racism. Rock asked
St. Lewis to immediately assess it in writing. He wanted her to discredit
the student report. She obliged.
In response, Rancourt called her a "house negro." He cited Malcolm X.
In 1963, Malcolm first used the term.
In response, a Statement of Claim (SOC) against him said:
"The Defendant's conduct and actions are reprehensible insulting, high-handed,
spiteful, and outrageous. Such conduct warrants condemnation by this
Court by means of an award of punitive damages."
"Professor St. Lewis will rely upon the entire conduct of the Defendant
before and after the May 16, 2011 Notice to the date of judgment in
It added that "(t)he Defendant defamed Professor St. Lewis in furtherance
of his personal animosity towards President Allan Rock and the University
of Ottawa which terminated him as a Professor."
Last October, it was learned that U of O is paying St. Lewis' legal
fees. Borden Ladner Gervais' chief attorney wrote Rancourt, saying:
"The University of Ottawa is reimbursing professor St. Lewis for her
legal fees incurred in her defamation proceeding(s) 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."
He added that U of O officials have a "moral obligation" to support
St. Lewis. It smacks more of collusion. Rancourt said funding her violates
his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"It is established that a corporation or in this case a large institution
that is publicly funded cannot sue an individual citizen (for) criticizing
the institution or corporation," he explained.
"An individual is always allowed to sue someone else individually to
protect their reputation like in a defamation lawsuit, so professor
St. Lewis had the right to litigation against me but the university
Rancourt called her action a strategic lawsuit against public participation
(SLAPP). They're used to intimidate and silence critics by burdening
them with legal costs until they're bankrupt. Winning is secondary.
Often it doesn't matter at all.
Rancourt one-on-one against St. Lewis is one thing. Right or wrong,
she's entitled to sue. Doing so with U of O funding is quite another
matter. It discredits her action altogether.
It shows rancor and malicious intent. It suggests a conspiracy to inflict
maximum harm. It's not about alleged defamatory comments.
It's an all-out assault on a distinguished, principled academic. He
deserves praise, not persecution. St. Lewis allied with the wrong side.
Maybe one day she'll acknowledge her mistake. So far she shows no signs
of relenting. Perhaps Rock eggs her on.
Rancourt filed a so-called "champerty" motion. On August 29, it
will be heard in court. He moved that her action be dismissed for abuse
of process. At issue is U of O's deep pockets funding her. Doing so
smacks of collusion and injustice.
On June 20, Rancourt also filed a "refusals and productions" motion.
At the motion hearing, he was denied the right to cross-examine a U
of O affiant.
He also submitted an expert's affidavit. It established the authenticity
of a document showing a March 2012 Rock/St. Lewis' counsel Richard Dearden
The expert's affidavit was called inadmissible. Reasons may be explained
when the court rules on his "refusals and productions" motion. On July
24, proceedings on it resume.
Rancourt represents himself against two experienced legal teams. They're
from two of Canada's largest law firms. Public funding and student tuitions
Fairness and justice are absent in proceedings. Defaming, persecuting,
and breaking Rancourt alone matter.
U of O Assistant Law Professor St. Lewis teaches civil liberties, social
justice, comparative South African and Canadian constitutional law.
She also taught courses in critical race theory, history of legal thought
and criminal justice administration.
She co-chaired the Canadian Bar Association Working Group on Racial
Given what she teaches students in classrooms and perhaps lectures on
publicly, her actions against Rancourt are especially unprincipled.
She'll have to explain her motive better than what's claimed so far.
Saying Rancourt maligned her doesn't wash.
He freely expressed his view. Canadian and international law permit
it. Suing against what's legal and just suggests something else entirely
Rancourt's endured months of expensive legal proceedings. His struggle
continues. He deserves much better. American and Canadian courts target
their best. Justice doesn't matter, only might over right.
On August 29, 2011 Law Times News headlined "U of O law prof
suing colleague over 'house negro' remark," saying:
In 1963, Malcolm X first used the term. He said it described subservient
slaves to their white masters. In return, they got special privileges.
They included better living conditions and treatment.
The St. Lewis/Rancourt dispute dates from November 2008. U of O's Student
Appeal Centre (SOC) of the Student Federation released a report titled
"Mistreatment of Students, Unfair Practices and Systemic Racism at the
University of Ottawa."
It said "Arab, Black, and Asian men and women - these are the students
that most often get accused of academic fraud."
In response, Rock had St. Lewis evaluate its findings. She called the
report "very unprofessional." She said its findings were "unsubstantiated,
inconclusive and inflammatory."
She claimed racist accusations were exaggerated. Doing so ignored prima
facie evidence. Her evaluation ran 19 pages. She alleged "significant
methodological errors." She cited an "apparent lack of understanding
of the administrative processes of the university."
She claimed it showed "complete failure to conduct a systemic analysis
in support of its conclusions of systemic racism."
She said at most a miniscule percent of the university population too
small to matter is affected.
Doing so ignored systematic U of O racism and abuse. A November 2011
lawsuit charged it. A January 30, 2012press release explained,
"Dr. Waleed AlGhaithy (Neurosurgery Residency Program, University of
Ottawa), Dr. Khalid Aba-Alkhail (Cardiac Surgery Residency Program)
and Dr. Manal Al-Saigh (same) have filed a joint action against the
University of Ottawa and several of its officials."
Those charged include Dr. Jacques Bradwejn (Dean of the Faculty of Medicine),
Dr. James Worthington (Ottawa Hospital's Vice President of Medical Affairs
and Patient Safety), Dr. Paul Bragg (Associate Dean Postgraduate Medical
Education), Dr. Eric Poulin (Chair of Cardiac Surgery), Dr. Richard
Moulton (Neurosurgery Chair), Dr. Fraser Rubens (Cardiac Surgery Program
Director), and Dr. John Sinclair (former Neurosurgery Program Director.
Charges relate to university discrimination against foreign medical
students at both provincial and national levels. It also focuses specifically
on U of O abuses.
They're not isolated examples. They're systemic against domestic and
foreign students as well as university staff of color.
Plaintiffs 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.
They also said defendants treated them "in a high-handed and oppressive
manner. The conduct of the University and the individual defendants
described herein constitute such wanton and reckless disregard of their
professional duties, their contractual obligation as well as their Charter
obligations, and (have) caused such devastating harm that an award of
punitive and aggravated damages is warranted."
Damages plaintiffs suffered include loss of income, reputation, mental
distress and suffering (including depression and anxiety), loss of future
employment as surgeons, and loss of time and opportunity to pursue other
In 2008, St. Lewis prepared her assessment. A January 30, 2012 press
release announced the above lawsuit. However, U of O racism is likely
St. Lewis is Black. She teaches civil liberties, social justice, and
Canadian constitutional law. It's hard imagining she's not familiar
with examples of campus racial injustice.
Rancourt criticized her assessment. He said "rather than being an independent
report, and far from being of professional caliber, (her) evaluation
is prima facie intended to diffuse a media and public relations management
liability for the University."
He suggested that St. Lewis "acted like president Allan Rock's house
negro when she enthusiastically toiled to discredit a (credible) 2008
SAC report about systemic racial discrimination at the university."
He added that Malcolm X first used the term. He provided a video of
him stating it. People in Western countries use pejoratives often without
Filing them is rare. Why bother when targeted individuals can respond
in kind. St. Lewis' action was politically motivated. She seeks $500,000
in general defamation damages, $250,000 in aggravated damages, and $250,000
for punitive ones.
She also wants a court order to remove Rancourt's post and a published
apology. A member of her legal team, Richard Dearden, said:
"The damages to professor St. Lewis increase and continue every day
that the defamatory publications are available via the Internet - these
defamatory statements must therefore be taken down."
"The compensatory and punitive damages claimed relate to the injury
to reputation caused by the defendant."
Rancourt defended his comments, saying:
"Those who argue that the same point could have been made without using
the term 'house negro' have the onus to explain why this racial socio-political
term should not be used in circumstances where it applies."
"Public discourse is not served by those who, in this way, would censor
accepted expressions which contain taboo words."
"Those who argue for this censorship in all media circumstances are
saying 'be polite' and 'be sensitive' as a first requirement, thereby
effectively drawing attention away from the actions which are being
"It is the institutional behaviour that needs examining, not the arguable
benefits of censorship or self-censorship."
When justified, proper, and credible, it's legitimate to call a Black
person a house negro. When accurate, it's not racist.
It's no different than calling Wall Street bankers and other predatory
capitalists crooks or saying politician A, B, and or C is corrupt.
These and similar charges happen regularly. So do people making true
or untrue defamatory comments all the time.
Some do it against business or professional associates. Others target
neighbors. SLAPP lawsuits don't follow. If they did, courts couldn't
handle the volume.
Allegations against Rancourt aren't proved. Hopefully they won't be.
They never should have been filed in the first place.
On June 30, Rancourt updated his "champerty" motion. On August 29, it
will be heard in court. U of O deep pockets fund St. Lewis. Doing so
violates his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
St. Lewis and U of O jointly stand to gain. Rock admitted under oath
that he decided to entirely fund Plaintiff's litigation. No spending
cap is imposed. He'll do what it takes to get Rancourt. That's his mission,
St. Lewis apparently is a willing co-conspirator. Do her social justice/civil
liberties courses teach this stuff? Her students and prospective ones
ought to know.
Perhaps they're better off in other classrooms. U of O ill serves them.
Enrolling elsewhere should be prioritized. Allan Rock's death grip should
He defiles speech and academic freedoms. He spurns Canadian and international
law. He enforces what no one should tolerate.
Systemic racism and institutionalized injustice infest the University
of Ottawa. An environment inhospitable to learning results.
Politicized campuses defile speech and academic freedoms. Avoiding U
of O should be prioritized.
A Final Comment
Rancourt represents himself. He's pitted against experienced teams from
two of Canada's largest law firms.
Litigation is expensive. It exhausted his savings. His legal defense
fund needs help. All donations go for legal and court costs.
Please visit his funding page and help as able.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
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
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