Interference in Selection of Michaelle Jean as Chancellor by Senate Chair Allan Rock
From: Joseph Hickey
To: Michaelle Jean
Date: November 10, 2011
Subject: Request for Your Action: Interference by President Allan Rock in Chancellor Selection Process
Dear Ms. Michaelle Jean,
Last Monday, November 7, the University of Ottawa Senate held an in camera (closed) session to discuss your appointment as Chancellor of the University.
Prior to the meeting, the nature of the in camera session was kept secret from Senators and from the public. This occurred despite my and another student Senator, Hazel Gashoka’s, public requests to the Vice-President of Governance, Diane Davidson, that the specific subject matter of the closed session be revealed to Senators before attending the meeting (see here). It is a basic procedural right of a member of a deliberative assembly to know the subject matter to be discussed on an agenda item before coming to that item at a meeting, as I am sure you will agree.
President Allan Rock’s administration refused to answer these requests, although I also repeated my request in person at the Secretariat’s office on November 4, 2011.
At the November 7 meeting of the Senate, I and Ms. Gashoka protested to the Senate’s Chairman, Mr. Rock, that the in camera session should not be held at that time given the absence of forewarning about the subject matter. I submitted a point of order that it was a violation of my procedural rights as a Senator to proceed with an unspecified in camera session.
The Chair ignored our objections and carried forward with the in camera session. Public observers were asked to leave the room, and the Senate’s video camera was turned off.
When the Chair asked for debate on the matter of your appointment as Chancellor, I asked the Chair if the vote count for your appointment would be made public. After a private consultation with the Vice-President of Governance, the Chair refused to answer my question, and said that it would be impolite if the Senate did not form a consensus on your appointment. He then agreed with another Senator’s statement that it was not the place of Senate to debate your appointment, but only to approve it. In other words, the Chair of Senate, President Rock, agreed that Senate should be nothing more than a rubber-stamping committee for your appointment as titular head of the University. I disagreed, and opposed your appointment as Chancellor due to my concern about external political interference in the University.
Mr. Rock then attempted to ram through a vote on the motion to appoint you as Chancellor, without resolving the question of vote transparency, while I protested on point of order. The Senate did not conduct a fair vote on this motion, but rather was exposed to an unfortunate and hasty show-process that served to trample Senators’ legitimate procedural concerns about transparency. Then, while I attempted to obtain clarification from the Chair about the public announcement of the vote count and protested the unfairness and partisanship of the Chair’s actions, the Chair permitted public observers to return to the Senate meeting room and ruled that the in camera session was over.
Ms. Jean, the actions of President Rock in the matter of your appointment were nothing short of an outright usurpation of democratic process, and this by a former Minister and Ambassador for the Canadian people.
As a former Governor General of Canada and representative of the Queen, please consider the undemocratic and illegitimate circumstances surrounding President Rock’s interference in the Senate’s rightful role in your appointment as Chancellor and please provide a response to the University community:
I ask that you recommend to the Chair of the Senate that the procedure be repaired by holding a new, proper, and transparent Senate session on the matter. Such a recommendation is needed to re-establish the integrity of the Chancellor’s appointment process and of your upcoming mandate.
Student Senator, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Sciences)
Cc: Senate members
Cc: University of Ottawa Ombudsperson
Cc: Concerned community members