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UofO and Professor St. Lewis File Costs Replies

April 28, 2012

The University of Ottawa and Professor Joanne St. Lewis have filed their replies to student Joseph Hickey’s arguments against paying their legal fees incurred in opposing public observation of President Allan Rock’s testimony.

  • Reply of Joanne St. Lewis, HERE
  • Reply of the University of Ottawa, HERE
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    April 28, 2012 10:12 am

    Just because St. Lewis CAN seek payment from Hickey, doesn’t mean she should. St. Lewis can jump off a cliff, but should she? Rock, St. Lewis and their (university paid) lawyers are looking at this in very black and white terms – and dare I say in mean-spirited and oppressive terms (keeping in mind that St. Lewis is a social justice lawyer). There is a wonderful 1970s song called “Easy to be Hard” by Three Dog Night (during the approximately same time that Rock was driving John Lennon around Ottawa – as he likes to bring up, as though this is his connection to “everyman” and freedom.):

    How can people be so heartless
    How can people be so cruel
    Easy to be hard
    Easy to be cold

    How can people have no feelings
    How can they ignore their friends
    Easy to be proud
    Easy to say no

    And especially people
    Who care about strangers
    Who care about evil
    And social injustice

    How can people be so heartless
    How can people be so cruel
    Easy to be proud
    Easy to say no
    Easy to be cold
    Easy to say no
    C’mon Easy to give in
    Easy to say no
    Easy to be cold
    Easy to say no
    Easy to say no

    I have to keep reminding myself that here we have a social justice law professor punitively attacking a student (by asking him to pay 1/3 of his income) for exercising free speech on a university campus and is suing another professor, using university (tuition) funds to seek more money from a student. From my perspective, this sends a significant message about the university administration’s litigious view against students and professors, alike, that “Might is Right.” If I was a student at the U of Ottawa or considering the U of Ottawa, I’d be reconsidering my choice about now, but that’s just me.

    • Wilfrid permalink
      April 28, 2012 6:14 pm

      Dear Steve,

      I understand your allegiance very well, but not your reasoning. How exactly is professor St. Lewis suing a student “for exercising free speech on a university campus”? From reading all the posts on this blog, I was under the impression that she was asking for costs in relation to a motion that Mr Hickey himself brought and lost. How was he for “exercising free speech on a university campus”? This did not happen on the steps of Tabaret Hall. This happened at the court house, on Elgin street, where people are held accountable for their actions.

      • Steve permalink
        April 30, 2012 8:43 am

        Mr. Hickey was defending transparency of free speech by asking for Mr. Rock’s testimony to be made public regarding the university’s involvement in paying for Ms. St. Lewis’s defamation law suit against Dr. Rancourt, who, in turn, was exercising his free speech. From my perspective, there’s a whole lot of ‘free speech’ that is being shut down on and off the campus (and it could be argued that a courtroom is an extension of the campus because everyone involved is somehow connected to university’s campus). I don’t believe that free speech on campus should be narrowly constructed to mean simply geographically – but should be broadened to include any activity on or off the campus that relates to the operations of the campus. The thousands of Quebec students marching in cities across that province – off campuses – are, in mind, still exercising free speech on campus – because their protests relate to the running of universities. Through all of this, most strikingly, a central figure in this situation is that of Ms. St. Lewis, who is a law professor in the area of social justice, an area of study, which presumably involves the giving of voice and the freeing up of speech to those who are socially marginalized. Personally, I find it ‘peculiar’ that an assistant professor, at the behest of a university president, constructs a report that minimizes racism on campus (apparently the Student Appeals Centre, through an FOI, has found that Mr. Rock was likely directly involved in this report, so arms length is suspect on its surface, so knowing this publicly is in the public’s interest – as is who is paying for St. Lewis’s lawsuit and how much this is, to date.) and then supports this same professor who chooses to sue another because of free speech – and this same university president, one presumes, comes running with bags of cash to support her efforts to squash free speech. In a university setting (and I’m counting the court action as an extension of this), a student living on a very low level of income qualifies as someone who can be constructed as marginalized when compared to Mr. Rock’s salary or even that of an assistant professor (power differentials and how these are used, here, are disturbing to me). So, here we have a student expected to pay one-third his annual income to a professor, who’s own lawsuit is already being paid for by the university; asking for money from a student simply because he exercised his right to have testimony directly related to the monies of a university be made public is all quite problematic. To me, the issue of free speech is all over this situation.

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