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Student Senator Makes Use of Allan Rock Policy to Reimburse Lawsuits

December 7, 2011

From: Joseph Hickey
To: President Allan Rock
Date: December 6, 2011
Subject: Reimbursement for legal fees incurred in defamation lawsuit against Vice-Dean, Denis Bachand

Dear President Allan Rock,

I am applying for support under the University of Ottawa’s new policy of defending the reputations of members who are egregiously attacked while performing their University duties.

At the Oct. 3, 2011 meeting of the University of Ottawa Senate, Vice-Dean and Senate member Denis Bachand subjected me to a vicious personal attack, demeaning my dignity and reputation as a student involved in the collegial governance of the University.  Mr. Bachand yelled at me the words: “Joseph, you have been expulsed! Why are you still here?  What?  Are you sick in the head?!”

I suffered this attack against my dignity and against my personal and professional reputation from a Senate member and University Vice-Dean while performing my duties as an elected member of University Senate.  My efforts were not personal, but in the interests of the University.

Mr. Bachand’s statement meant and was intended to mean that I was mentally deficient, psychologically disturbed, and not fit to work at the University of Ottawa in my capacities as an elected Senate representative, a teaching assistant, and a graduate student researcher.  Mr. Bachand’s aggressive defamation cannot possibly be construed as part of the legitimate Senate process.

At the Nov. 7, 2011 Senate meeting, Mr. Bachand publicly refused to apologize for his defamatory remarks made toward me.  He furthermore publicly acknowledged that his defamatory remarks about me were occasioned by work which I undertook in the course of my responsibilities and duties as an elected Senate representative at the Oct. 3 meeting.   This work was my formal objection to the Chair’s decision, in violation of the Senate’s Policy on Video Recording, to turn off the video camera recording the meeting.  My objection was strongly supported in letters sent to all Senate members by the undergraduate and graduate student associations following the Oct. 3 Senate meeting, and by your decision as Chair of the Nov. 7 Senate meeting to revert to the normal practice of filming Senate under the Policy.

Mr. Bachand’s “sick in the head” statement was an outrageously demeaning attack on a student’s character, made by a professor and vice-dean in the public setting of the university Senate.  No student must ever again be subjected to such humiliating and damaging treatment and no Senate member should ever suffer such an attack while performing his/her Senate duties to the best of his/her abilities.

Mr. Bachand’s repeated refusal to apologize aggravates the damage to my academic, professional and personal reputation.  This damage must be repaired.  I have no choice but to sue Mr. Bachand under defamation law.

The University has recently established in a letter of Oct. 25, 2011 (below), from its counsel Mr. David W. Scott and made public on the web, that it has an obligation to defend the reputations of its members who are egregiously attacked while performing their University duties in the interests of the University.  Furthermore, Mr. Bachand’s outrageously discriminatory and vile attack upon me as a student representative takes this case out of the ordinary and therefore, in the expressed view of the University, alone creates a moral obligation to provide support for me in defence of my reputation.

Please therefore immediately confirm that the University will reimburse my legal fees incurred in my defamation proceeding in the Courts against Mr. Bachand.  I note also, that in such cases the University has carried out its responsibility using some of the highest-ranking lawyers available in the National Capital Region.  Please respond immediately, given the obvious urgency of this matter.

Sincerely,

Joseph Hickey
M.Sc. candidate, Physics
Student Senate representative, FGPS (Sciences)
University of Ottawa

Cc: made public

* * *

October 25, 2011

Dear Dr. Rancourt

We represent the University of Ottawa and are responding to your communication of August 28.

Of the many questions which you have posed, I am instructed to answer only the first. The remaining questions suggest an agenda and are beyond any requirement to respond.

Indeed, the University of Ottawa is reimbursing Professor St. Lewis for her legal fees incurred in her defamation proceeding in the Courts 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. Her efforts were not personal, but in the interests of the University. Furthermore, your outrageously racist attack upon her takes this case out of the ordinary and, in the view of the University, alone creates a moral obligation to provide support for her in defence of her reputation.

For the future, any questions which you choose to pose in respect of which there is no legal obligation to respond will be not answered.

Yours very truly
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
David W. Scott

* The above letter is in relation to the defamation law case of Joanne St. Lewis vs. Denis Rancourt.  The letter is accessible HERE.

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