Collective Knowledge


In the wake of the University of Ottawa’s suspension and decision to dismiss Professor Denis Rancourt, some of the researchers working under Rancourt have decided to file a lawsuit against the university for breach of contract and misfeasance in public office.

See details in the press release below.

PRESS RELEASE: RANCOURT STUDENTS FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS
Tuesday, February 24, 11:00 a.m., lobby of Tabaret Hall, University of Ottawa

On December 10, 2008, the University of Ottawa summarily, without notice consultation or due process, closed the laboratory of Professor Denis Rancourt, locking out its researchers, seizing equipment and derailing years of award winning scholarship in nanoparticle physics.  As a result of this ill-conceived plan, post Doctoral researcher Meizhen Dang’s employment was terminated after twelve years of dedicated research assistance. Master’s student Sean Kelly lost nearly six years of specialized research in the area of ferromagnetism and Master’s student Joseph Hickey has been bullied by the administration to abandon his fully funded NSERC research project under Professor Rancourt.
“Academic excellence and freedom at the University of Ottawa are under a profound attack when the administration takes a personal dislike to a certain professor” according to Joseph Hickey. “I came to attend the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at this University on a fully funded scholarship to work with a leading world expert in physics, not to be coerced and treated with such disdain.”
“Every day that we are locked out of our research jobs, the value of our scholarships diminish and the likelihood of regaining our research momentum decreases rendering the prospects for our scientific careers more doubtful,” explained Sean Kelly.
For Meizhen Dang, she is concerned about the lack of consideration and disrespect shown to longstanding researchers at the University of Ottawa.  “Had I known that after a decade of work I would end up by being unceremoniously locked out of my lab and having my research seized despite producing internationally recognized and award winning scientific results, I would have left this environment years ago.  What have I done to deserve this?”
After their requests to return to their academic supervisor and laboratory research group fell on deaf ears, the postdoctoral researcher and graduate students will file a joint claim against the University  and the Dean of Graduate Studies, Gary Slater for monetary damages relating to breach of contract and misfeasance in public office.  On February 24, 2009 at 11 a.m., in the lobby of Tabaret Hall, these students and researchers will announce their plan to take legal action against the University.  In so doing they also hope to encourage a broad ranging discussion on the fall out of the University’s crack down on scientific research and scholarship, which may encourage greater transparency in administrative procedures and basic respect for the students and researchers who are the lifeblood of academic excellence within the institution.
Initial press coverage:
Robert Fisk - Middle East Correspondent of The Independent (UK)

Robert Fisk - Middle East Correspondent of The Independent (UK)

Robert Fisk spoke at the University of Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 21. During his talk he made specific mention of the horrible state of Canadian media in covering the Middle East and specifically the Israel – Palestine conflict. Chronicling the Globe and Mail and National Post he wondered how such embarrassing editorials are passed on as journalism. I’m sure this latest gem from the National Post would have been included in his discussion if it had come out earlier.

National Post – February 23, 2009

George Burger: Anti-Semitism and its enablers

Anti-Semitism is a belief. It happens to be the repugnant belief, that Jews are inferior, deserving of hatred. Repugnant beliefs these days typically gain little currency, little purchase because of the general aversion that we civilized folks have for beliefs which discriminate. Like a germ a repugnant belief can only replicate, expand, grow, poison the body, if it has the right environment, is nourished, or is not halted by external forces like medicine, swiftly applied. A germ needs neglect to flourish; to neglect it is to enable its growth. It is critical to deconstruct the interplay between anti-semitism and its enablers, because a failure to do so will let it grow to unmanageable proportions, and poison us all again.

In the immediate context, without going beyond Canada’s borders, there are literal correlatives to the words “anit-semitism or anti-semite” and “enablers”. Here are some examples.

1. Syd Ryan is an anti-Semite. There is no point any longer in attributing benign motives to the positions he has taken. The rigid double standard he imposes on Israel, the passion he brings to his cause, to the exclusion of many other far more violent and egregiously one-sided conflicts, and his willful ignorance of the history of the conflict between Israel and its neighbours, not to mention the immediate circumstances of the targeting of the university in Gaza that so offended him (it was also a rocket manufacturing base, whose professors were dedicated to building more deadly missiles) defines him as an anti-Semite.

(more…)

Welcome to the new website for the Canadian Institute for Academic Freedom and Rights. Here you’ll find all sorts of information pertaining to the history and current climate of freedom and rights on Canadian campuses and within the Canadian Academy. The site was started in light of a protracted campaign by groups in Canada to shut down activism, dissent and protest on Canadian campuses. From the firing and police-assisted removal of Denis Rancourt at the University of Ottawa to February 15th’s full-page ad in the National Post by B’nai Brith that demonizes student activism – students and academics in Canada are engaged in an incredibly important struggle for their rights and freedoms.

Academic freedom in Canada is being hijacked.  Posters are being banned, conferences shut down, events cancelled, positions terminated, bodies removed. And one of the most important things about academic freedom is that it levels the playing the field – this is what the B’nai Brith are seizing on – namely the ‘hurt’ that their students/followers are experiencing. But all of this is detracting from the groups that are most powerless and what is at issue is the power to define – whose experience gets legitimized and whose is so easily marginalized?

Here is the text of the B’nai Brith full page ad on the back of the National post, published Feb. 15/09:

STOP THE HATE-FESTS ON CANADIAN UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES

“Presidents of Canadian universities must demonstrate leadership. They must come forward to prevent Israeli Apartheid Week, an event that has become notorious for promoting hatred against the Jewish State and its student supporters here at home. They must stand up to the daily ongoing anti-Jewish agitation that has taken root on campuses across the country.

Boards of governors, professors, alumni and benefactors must also act now.

A poisoned environment is being fostered where Jewish students are increasingly intimidated and targeted for hate. In recent weeks, there have been documented assaults on Jewish students, threats, on-going harassment, and mob scenes. These incidents are being ignored  by university administrations and campus security. Police forces, when called to the scene, all too often turn a blind eye.

The pretense that Canada is well is over. When good people do not act, radicals fill the void.

TAKE A STAND AGAINST ANTISEMITISM ON CAMPUS

**How You Can Make a Difference**

-If you are a graduate of a university that refuses to condemn antisemitic hate fests, it is time to register your protest directly with a copy to bnb@bnaibrith.ca

-If you are a donor to such a university, it is time to withhold any future contributions. Inform B’nai Brith of your actions.

-If you are a Canadian taxpayer and want to stop your dollars from promoting hate, voice your public opposition at every opportunity. Work with B’nai Brith to stop the intolerace.

-If you are a concerned Canadian who opposes the hijacking of campus agendas by those promoting hatred, then you are bliged to speak up.

B’nai Brith Canada pledges its ogoing support to Jewish students. We urge students to call the organisation’s toll free 24-7 hotline – 1-800-892-2624 – to report all antisemitic incidents.

Subscribe to http://www.jewishcanada.ca <http://www.jewishcanada.ca&gt; to keep fully informed about ongoing human rights violations on campuses.”