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Carleton U board members sworn to secrecy

November 29, 2015

As reported yesterday in the Ottawa Citizen:

‘Biology professor Root Gorelick, the faculty representative refusing to sign onto the new edict, has blogged about the board meetings.

“It apparently gets me in trouble,’ he said Saturday, “but I keep doing it. I have been told informally and somewhat more formally that is has to cease.”

The board executive committee is comprised of non-university members and Gorelick said he would be “speculating” if he said his blogs had sparked the new rule.

“There could be other reasons, I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t think of any other reasons but there certainly is a possibility.”’ – Ottawa Citizen

uOttawa again ordered to release Allan Rock’s emails

October 26, 2015

“I conclude that the university has not discharged its onus and that there is no reasonable expectation of harm identified by the university occurring if the records are disclosed.” — Para. 25, Final Order PO-3540-F.

In August 2015, we reported on an Interim Order of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) that ordered the University of Ottawa to release emails between President Allan Rock and his former Chief of Staff, Stephan Emard-Chabot.

We recently received the IPC’s Final Order (PO-3540-F) on this matter. This decision orders the university to release another set of records, which were withheld on the basis of section 17 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, a section intended to protect the “informational assets” of third parties who provide information to a public institution. None of the third parties contacted by the adjudicator objected to disclosure of the information pertaining to them:

[15] As noted above, I notified the five third-parties of this appeal and provided them with the opportunity to make representations. One of the third-parties did not respond. The others responded as follows:

• One third-party stated that the records relating to it “may be released to the [appellant]”.

• One third-party stated that it had “no concerns regarding the disclosure of the information”…

• One third-party stated that it had “no objection”…

• One third-party stated that it was “ok with [the] request”…

[16] The third-parties did not file representations beyond these statements.

The access to information request was filed in September 2011. The Final Order is dated Oct. 15, 2015.

Records to follow.

Access Denied in Ontario: A Critical Examination of the Roles of the University, the Commissioner, the Legislature, and the Courts

October 16, 2015

Available here on is a chapter I wrote in 2014 for a book about Freedom of Information in Canada. The chapter is entitled “Access Denied in Ontario: A Critical Examination of the Roles of the University, the Commissioner, the Legislature, and the Courts”.

The chapter was accepted by the academic editors of the volume as “excellent” and an “important and unique contribution to the collection”, but was later rejected by the publicly-funded publisher.

Notes from Judicial Review of Rancourt Arbitration Award – Motion Hearing

October 8, 2015

The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (the “Union”) has appealed Arbitrator Foisy’s decision to uphold the dismissal of former Professor of Physics Denis Rancourt. The appeal takes the form of an application for judicial review to the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

As a preliminary matter, the University moved to strike out the Union’s affidavit submitted with its application for judicial review. The motion was heard today before Justice Robert Scott at the Ottawa Courthouse on Elgin St.

My typed notes from today’s motion hearing can be read here.

See here for my typed notes from the Foisy arbitration.

YouTube complaint against Student’s-Eye View dismissed

September 17, 2015

Student’s-Eye View received an anonymous privacy complaint about a YouTube video based on a U of O Senate meeting that took place in 2011.

The video was embedded in a September 2011 post “SFUO President Amalia Savva Granted Whispering Rights at Senate by Allan Rock” and showed student federation president Amalia Savva and U of O president Allan Rock interacting during a public meeting of university Senate.

Following Joseph Hickey’s submission that the video was on a matter of public interest, YouTube decided to dismiss the complaint.

The emails from YouTube advising of the complaint initiation and closure, and Mr. Hickey’s submission for dismissal of the complaint can be read below:

To: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 14, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube support

Dear Joseph Hickey,

This is to notify you that we have received a privacy complaint from an individual regarding your content:


Video URLs:
The information reported as violating privacy is at 0_00, 0_20-1_08


We would like to give you an opportunity to review the content in question and remove any personal information that may be used to uniquely identify or contact the complainant.

You have 48 hours to take action on the complaint. If you remove the alleged violation from the site within the 48 hours, the complaint filed will then be closed. If the potential privacy violation remains on the site after 48 hours, the complaint will be reviewed by the YouTube Team and may be removed pursuant to our Privacy Guidelines ( For content to be considered for removal, an individual must be uniquely identifiable by image, voice, full name, Social Security number, bank account number or contact information (e.g., home address, email address). Examples that would not violate our privacy guidelines include gamer tags, avatar names, and address information in which the individual is not named. We also take public interest, newsworthiness, and consent into account when determining if content should be removed for a privacy violation.

If the alleged violation is located within the video itself, you may have to remove the video completely. If someone’s full name or other personal information is listed within the title, description, or tags of your video, you can edit this by going to My Videos and clicking the Edit button on the reported video. Making a video private is not an appropriate method of editing, as the status can be changed from private to public at any time. Because they can be turned off at any time, annotations are also not considered an acceptable solution.

We’re committed to protecting our users and hope you understand the importance of respecting others’ privacy. When uploading videos in the future, please remember not to post someone else’s image or personal information without their consent. For more information, please review our Privacy Guidelines

Joseph Hickey
To: YouTube
Date: Sep. 16, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube Support

Dear YouTube Representative:

Re: Privacy complaint about YouTube video

This email is in response to your email dated Sept. 14, 2015 (see below) regarding a privacy complaint connected to my video uploaded to YouTube at the following URL:

The video at issue constitutes my political expression on a matter of public interest: the conduct of an elected student association president and the president of a major Canadian university.

I ask you to dismiss the individual’s complaint for the following reasons.


I am a YouTube user based in Ottawa, Canada. Since 2010, I have posted many videos concerning the University of Ottawa and its community to my YouTube account. I have posted these videos first as a graduate student and now as an alumnus of the university, and as a former elected representative to the University of Ottawa Senate.

The YouTube video at issue is a clip of length 1 minute, 25 seconds, containing footage taken by the University of Ottawa of a public meeting held on Sept. 12, 2011 of the university Senate and posted on the university’s website (currently at the following URL:

Ms. Amalia Savva is featured in the video. Ms. Savva was President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) on Sept. 12, 2011. The SFUO is a non-profit organization incorporated under the Corporations Act of Ontario[1] that represents all of the approximately 36,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa.[2] The SFUO receives over $5 million in revenue yearly from student fees.[3] The SFUO President is elected yearly by undergraduate students and receives a full-time salary.[4]

The University of Ottawa is a publicly funded university regulated by Ontario law, with over 40,000 students. The University of Ottawa Senate is the highest committee regulating academic matters at the University of Ottawa. Pursuant to the University of Ottawa Act, 1965, the Senate has the power to:[5]

  1. a) to control, regulate and determine the educational policy of the University according to Christian principles and its bilingual tradition and character;

    b) to determine the courses of study and standards of admissions to the University and continued membership therein, and qualifications for degrees and diplomas;

    c) to deal with all matters arising in connection with the awarding of fellowships, scholarships, bursaries, medals, prizes and other awards;

    d) to confer the degrees of Bachelor, Master and Doctor, and all other degrees and diplomas in all branches of learning that may appropriately be conferred by a university;

    e) to confer honorary degrees in any branch of higher learning with the concurrence of the Board;

    f) to create committees to exercise its powers.

I was an elected representative to the University of Ottawa Senate for the academic years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. I was present at the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting.


The YouTube video at issue contains footage of the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate. Ms. Savva is seen speaking (whispering) to the chairman of the Senate, who is also the President of the University of Ottawa, Mr. Allan Rock. Ms. Savva’s intervention took place during discussion of an item on the Senate’s Agenda, during its meeting. At the end of the YouTube video, Mr. Rock is seen announcing the content of Ms. Savva’s whispered message out loud, to the Senate at large. The discussion lead to a vote passing a “Motion on Academic Amnesty” at that meeting.[6]

As a member of the Senate who was present at the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting, I wrote a blog post critical of Ms. Savva and Mr. Rock’s interaction entitled “SFUO President Amalia Savva Granted Whispering Rights at Senate by Allan Rock”.[7] This blog post was posted on the Student’s-Eye View blog, which I co-manage, and which is dedicated to coverage and criticism of the University of Ottawa and its Senate.[8]

YouTube and Freedom of Expression

The video at issue and the accompanying blog post contain my critical expression about matters of public interest: 1) the conduct of the SFUO President and University of Ottawa President at the public meeting of the university Senate of Sept. 11, 2011; and 2) the deliberation surrounding the “Motion on Academic Amnesty” passed at that meeting.

I note that the video does not breach YouTube’s “community guidelines”.[9] I also note that the video contains no information that would allow a viewer to contact Ms. Savva.

Removing my video would silence and censor my free expression about the publicly-funded University of Ottawa, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, and about the university President and the SFUO President, who are public figures.

Any such silencing and censorship by YouTube in the name of responding to privacy complaints imposes a chill on free expression on the Internet. Instead of participating in censorship in this way, YouTube must be a leader in promoting robust and freewheeling expression and debate about all topics including about public figures such as those portrayed in my YouTube clip.

For these reasons I ask you to dismiss the complaint submitted Sept. 14, 2015.


Joseph Hickey, B.Sc., M.Sc. (University of Ottawa)

[1] SFUO constitution: <> at pg. 23.

[2] Universities Canadad, “Enrolment by university” (2014): <>.

[3] at pg. 4.

[4] SFUO constitution: <>.

[5] University of Ottawa Act, 1965: <> at para. 17.

[6] Minutes of the Sept. 11, 2011 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate: <>.

[7] Student’s-Eye View blog post dated Sept. 29, 2011: <>.

[8] Student’s-Eye View: About: <>.

[9] YouTube Community Guidelines: <>.

To: Joseph Hickey
Date: Sep. 17, 2015
Subject: Re: YouTube Support

Hi there,
We have reviewed the complaint and have determined that the content is excepted from removal based on our privacy guidelines, which can be found at The content does not violate our policies and will remain on the site. We thank you for using YouTube.

For more information about our removal processes, please check out the following video:
The YouTube Team


uOttawa ordered to release Allan Rock’s emails

August 6, 2015

In September 2011, former member of the University of Ottawa Senate Joseph Hickey filed an access to information (ATI) request for all communications between university president Allan Rock and his former chief of staff Stephane Emard-Chabot.

As was previously reported on this blog, the university initially refused to process Mr. Hickey’s ATI request and closed the file and returned the filing fee.

Mr. Hickey appealed, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario (IPC) ordered the university to process the ATI request. The university then issued an “access decision”, providing access to some records and denying access to others.

Mr. Hickey appealed the access decision to the IPC, and received a decision dated June 25, 2015 ordering the university to disclose additional records. The additional records had been withheld on the basis of Section 18(1) of Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which is intended to protect the economic interests of institutions. The IPC adjudicator ordered all records withheld under section 18(1) released. The new records are posted in a PDF at the link here.

Some of the new records of note are:

  • Records 244, 246, and 257 (beginning at pgs. 225, 228, and 237 in the PDF): $585,000 spent under “management authority” re: plans for new building
  • Record 192 (pg. 162): A. Rock’s “secret fund” to pay for high-profile speaker
  • Record 151 (pg. 133): Funding for A. Rock’s 2-year travel plan may be shifted from provincially-mandated 10% cut to “executive offices” (see also Record 176 at pg. 150)
  • Records 286 and 287 (pg. 253): A. Rock to appear as intro for “respect in the workplace” video
  • Record 87 (pg. 85): F. Houle concerned about A. Rock’s confidence in his abilities as VP Academic
  • Record 5 (pg. 4): Dean of Law listed as nominator for honorary doctorate, but incapable of supporting nomination

Transcript-Notes from the Rancourt Dismissal Arbitration

December 22, 2014

Former member of the University of Ottawa Senate Joseph Hickey has made public his typed notes from the wrongful dismissal arbitration of Professor of Physics Denis Rancourt.

In the introduction to his document, Hickey states that:

“It is my hope that these notes, exhibits, and collected reports will be of use to researchers, students, and other members of the community concerned with the institutional behaviour of universities in Canada and elsewhere.”

The document contains a collection of background information and reports for Days 1-15 of the arbitration hearings, and Hickey’s typed transcript-notes and copies of media articles that appeared during Days 17-28 of hearings.

A .zip folder containing copies of the exhibits entered into evidence during the arbitration is available at the link here. The exhibits are referred to in Hickey’s notes as they were introduced by the lawyers during the hearings.


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