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

Statement of Purpose

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

Reports about my work as a Senate member can be found at the blog “A Student’s-Eye View.”  Posts specifically related to the St. Lewis vs. Rancourt case are collected here.

Following my post of author Jeff Schmidt’s letter to University President, Allan Rock (link-1, 2), I received a legal threat over defamation from Ms. St. Lewis’ lawyer, Richard Dearden, who is paid by the university (see the comment on the post at link-1).

This attempt by the university, via lawyer Mr. Dearden, to suppress access to infomation, discussion, and debate about a controversial case that raises serious societal and campus-relevant questions about racism, institutional criticism, and freedom of speech, is unacceptable and does not reflect a university that I can be proud of.

Therefore, as an elected student participant in the University of Ottawa’s collegial governance system, I have decided to offer this uncensored discussion page about the St. Lewis vs. Rancourt defamation suit as a service to the community.

Please comment freely.  To submit a new post to this site, please send an e-mail to or with the subject “Post for St. Lewis vs. Rancourt Forum” and the title clearly indicated in the first line of the e-mail.  All “comments” to posts will be permitted.  If the volume of submitted posts is large, “posts” may be chosen to balance opposing views.

All authors’ opinions are their own.  Links and references to cited works do not imply agreement with or endorsement of the views expressed or information published in the linked postings or cited works.

Joseph Hickey
December 1, 2011

* * *

I join this Forum about the Joanne St. Lewis vs. Denis Rancourt lawsuit as a full co-manager of the blog because:

1)  There is a need for open and honest discourse irrespective of the litigation context.

2)  Both Joanne St. Lewis and Denis Rancourt need to be held accountable for their political actions.

3)  The core issue of systemic racism needs to be brought to the fore.

This started with a report about systemic racism at the University of Ottawa.  The central point has been lost in semantics.

Hazel Gashoka
Student Senator, Faculty of Social Sciences
December 14, 2011

  1. All these university ideals are great but the moment a “Professor” or “Former Professor” calls another a “House Negro” you have killed all possibilities of “open and honest discourse”. You can hold individuals to account for their actions if it is their actions you have a concern for but you cannot expect to use racist “hate” speech against them and then expect them not to respond and or choose to defend themselves in a public forum after that public forum has been tainted with racists “hate” speech against them. To do that implies the Former or current Professor lacks core principles of professional conduct which I assume exist even in a tenured environment. I do not want that Professor as my role model. If there are concerns about a report and the review of a report surely the concerns can be addressed without resorting to racist “hate” speech. One expects more from academia and so should the student body seeking “higher education.”

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