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Joanne St. Lewis Threatens to Sue Student Senator over Blog

December 9, 2011

As a member of University of Ottawa Senate, I have covered and worked on matters related to the defamation lawsuit between Assistant Professor of Law, Joanne St. Lewis and former Professor of Physics, Denis Rancourt.

Links to related blog posts are located HERE and at the forum for discussion and debate on the case, HERE.

On Dec. 6, Ms. St. Lewis’ lawyer, Richard Dearden, sent a Notice of Libel to me by e-mail.  My correspondence with Mr. Dearden is posted below:


From: Richard Dearden
To: Joseph Hickey
Date: December 6, 2011, 4:13 p.m.
Subject: Professor Joanne St. Lewis

Mr. Hickey – attached is a Notice of libel and takedown of yet another defamatory blog you have published about my client Professor Joanne St. Lewis.

Attachment-1 (Notice of Libel)
Attachment-2 (Print-out)


On Dec. 6, 2011 at 10:03 p.m., Joseph Hickey wrote: 

Mr. Dearden,

I received your Notice of Libel, dated December 6, 2011.  I want to avoid litigation.  I would like your confirmation that if I permanently and immediately remove the December 2, 2011 “Student’s-Eye View” post in question (, as you request, that the matter will be closed and there will be no litigation against me.

Please answer by December 7, 5:00 p.m.

Joseph Hickey


On Dec. 6, 2011 at 10:15 p.m., Dearden, Richard wrote:

Mr. Hickey – I will obtain instructions from my client.


On Dec. 7, 2011 at 11:56 a.m., Dearden, Richard wrote:

Mr. Hickey – can you please confirm for me that any emails we exchange in an attempt to settle/resolve issues regarding publications on your blog will at all times be treated as confidential.
Also, i am going to be in meetings all afternoon today and will not be able to respond to your email below until tomorrow – i assume this is ok.


On Dec. 7, 2011 at 6:38 p.m., Joseph Hickey wrote:

Mr. Dearden,

I’ve offered to comply provided you confirm that you will not litigate against me.  It’s a simple point.  I need an answer by noon tomorrow 8th.  Your point about confidentiality is irrelevant.

Joseph Hickey


On Dec. 7, 2011 at 8:06 p.m., Dearden, Richard wrote:

My point about confidentiality is highly relevant Mr. Hickey. When parties undertake settlement negotiations those negotiations are confidential and are not to be posted on a blog for the Internet world at large to access. I am most amenable to making an attempt to resolve this matter with you and avoid litigation before noon tomorrow. Your call.


On Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:07 p.m., Joseph Hickey wrote:

It’s yes or no, Mr. Dearden.  I comply, you don’t sue me.  This is a reasonable question.

I do not accept your proposal of confidentiality.  Your action is against my Senate work.  As you know, all my Senate dealings are transparent.


On Dec. 8, 2011 at 9;24 a.m., Dearden, Richard wrote:

Mr. Hickey
1.Please do not delude yourself into believing that defaming a University of Ottawa Law Professor has anything to do with your Senate work – your defamatory publications about Professor St. Lewis have absolutely nothing to do with your duties as a Senator. I will not negotiate a settlement of your defamatory publications about Professor St. Lewis in public . My request is reasonable in light of your partisan support of Denis Rancourt in his defence of Professor St. Lewis’ libel action.
2. Once again, I am demanding that you take down all of your defamatory statements about my client. In addition to reminding you of all the previous take down notices I have sent to you (eg. the Jeff Schmidt email publications, the publication of Mr. Rancourt’s defamatory blogs),  I am giving you notice to preserve all communications you have exchanged with Mr. Rancourt regarding Professor St. Lewis and her libel action against him. When you consult your lawyer he/she will explain to you the meaning of a “litigation hold” more fully – in short, you are not to destroy/delete/alter any of your communications (electronic or hard copy) with Mr. Rancourt regarding Professor St. Lewis as well as her libel action against Mr. Rancourt .


On Dec. 8, 2011 at 7:10 p.m., Joseph Hickey wrote:

Mr. Dearden – your continued refusal to not litigate against me if I comply with your Notice is clear, in the face of my repeated requests to get your yes or no answer.

Your suggestion that I am not an independent thinker in the matter of the University of Ottawa St. Lewis vs. Rancourt conflict is slanderous, and I demand that you stop repeating any such statements (such as partisan supporter, supporter, delusional, etc.) to your client or anyone else and I urge you to not use the public Court record as you have done in this way previously to attack my character.  Stop this now.

Joseph Hickey


From: Richard Dearden
To: Joseph Hickey
Date: December 8, 2011, 7:43 p.m.
Subject: Professor Joanne St. Lewis v. Joseph Hickey

Mr. Hickey – let me be clear – I am not refusing to commence negotiation of a settlement of your publication of Mr. Rancourt’s defamatory February blog. It is not a simple yes or no answer and I am not negotiating a settlement that you post on your blog. To date, our exchanges, including this one, are not confidential. If you want to resolve this matter, agree to confidentiality and you may be surprised at how quickly we can get it settled.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Azadeh Almaari permalink
    December 10, 2011 3:46 am

    3 Hoorays for You, Mr Hickey for refusing to be intimidated, browbeaten and forced into compliance with those who wish to cover up their misdeeds… How rare is your example of courage and integrity in the face of these fraudulent academics, university administrators and now this lawyer .. who is just another opportunistic fraud, just like those who are paying him to protect them from any kind of moral or legal accountability.

    • Wilfrid permalink
      December 14, 2011 9:36 pm

      Do you have any idea what you are talking about Azadeh? Are you calling professor St Lewis a “fraudulent academic”? On what factual basis do you make such claims?

  2. Steve permalink
    December 10, 2011 8:01 am

    The National Post just printed an excellent news story yesterday about Canadian universities failing to protect freedom of speech on their campuses (you know whereby dissent is supposed to be encouraged and allowed to flourish – not threaten dissent and critique into obedience!). I must say I concur with the news story, since moving to Ottawa. This city and this university, for me, have been a backwater bastion of uptightness, conservatism and repression of freedoms. My alma mater came out on top for safeguarding free speech – The University of BC. I miss that university – far more progressive, even given its size. The next university I teach at, I’m going to evaluate the culture of the place. I didn’t at the University of Ottawa and it caused me such enormous grief. Lack of free speech is a key benchmark that illustrates the corporatization of The Academy. I attest that all of this is just my opinion – it’s called engaging in debate and showing dissent. So please no one come out of the woodwork to sue me for having – heaven forbid – an opinion.

    • Wilfrid permalink
      December 12, 2011 8:53 pm

      Good luck finding another teaching job! Maybe you should apply for a tenure track position at UBC?

  3. Steve permalink
    December 10, 2011 9:52 am

    In this era of hyper-vigilance against bullying in schools, I would like to remind everyone what the Oxford Dictionary defines “bully” and “bullying”:

    noun (plural bullies)

    a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker:he is a ranting, domineering bully

    verb (bullies, bullying, bullied)
    [with object]
    use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something:a local man was bullied into helping them

    Reading the above posting – and really the entirety of the University of Ottawa’s stance toward dissenters and one can clearly see where the power and powerless reside. I hasten to add that bullying is NOT the same thing as critique, which the same dictionary defines thus:


    a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory:a critique of Marxist historicism

    verb (critiques, critiquing, critiqued)
    [with object]
    evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way:the authors critique the methods and practices used in the research

    And which both powerful and powerless can engage in…. much more democratic than bullying I may say. And again, as always, because this is being added to a dialogue on a university campus…. these are my opinions, supported by Oxford dictionary – so please don’t sue – but instead… try something novel…. read, listen, reflect and open one’s own mind rather than wield an angry sword to silence.

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