Forum for Discussion and Debate on the Lawsuit, University of Ottawa

Academic Freedom? How Nasty Can a University Be?

In All on 2018/02/26 at 11:56

by Denis Rancourt

The present era of reactionary institutional responses to violations of political correctness is exposing the fact that “academic freedom”, of both professors and students, does not really mean much, except what it has always meant.

In the concluding paragraphs of her chapter on academic freedom in her 1986 book No Ivory Tower, Ellen W. Schrecker brilliantly states what modern academic freedom has always been and was always meant to be:


Nonetheless, it is interesting to ask: Just how far can a Western university, in a so-called free and democratic society, go in violating the freedom of expression and the professional independence of a tenured professor?

My own case gives a graphic answer to this question.


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The sorry state of Canadian civil liberties: Recasting ‘Uncle Tom’ as civil rights hero

In All on 2014/11/20 at 21:13

by Sam Boshra

Racism in Canada finds fertile ground online: Joanne St. Lewis case is just one that shows how internet easily spreads racist message
— Terry Reith and Briar Stewart, CBC News November 12, 2014

A well-intentioned CBC initiative to shine a light on racism in Canada has gone awry with this story on Ms. Joanne St. Lewis, a University of Ottawa professor. The story neglects to specify what provoked a fellow professor to direct a racial epithet at her in the first place: Her disingenuous efforts to discredit a report on systemic racism at the university, on behalf of its (then) all-white executive. Contrary to the story’s premise, Ms. St. Lewis is no civil rights hero.”


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Racism in Canada finds fertile ground online: Joanne St. Lewis case is just one that shows how internet easily spreads racist message

In All on 2014/11/20 at 21:00

By Terry Reith, Briar Stewart, CBC News

“When Joanne St. Lewis wrote a critical evaluation of a student racism project, she could not have known the grief it would cause. And certainly not the years it would take to finally erase the racial slur that accompanied her name in every online search.

It began six years ago, and continues today in spite of an Ontario Superior Court decision in June. The decision found an Ottawa blogger had defamed St. Lewis by attaching a racial epithet meaning to “sell out,” stemming from the black slave experience, to her name.

St. Lewis, a University of Ottawa law professor, has taken steps most would find daunting. Going to court, winning a decision and now fighting an appeal.

“It’s extremely expensive. It’s difficult. It’s imperfect. It’s painful. And it may not always even remotely be an opportunity or a remedy for someone,” she said.

But for St. Lewis, standing up against the slur, written in a blog and repeated by others, it was a sense of duty and dignity.

“If it is my fate to be the first black Canadian so publicly defiled, then it is my hope to be the last. It was essential that no other suffer as I have,” she wrote after a jury found the words used against her were defamatory.”


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