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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.


Read the full article at


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.”


Read the full article at

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.”


Read the full article by CBC News

An Ode to Justice Michel Z. Charbonneau

In All, Satire on 2014/07/14 at 15:43


By Larry Byron
Law Society of Up Canada University
Ontario, Canada

An Ode to Justice Michel Z. Charbonneau
re: the defamation trial of St. Lewis v. Rancourt
Read the rest of this entry »

Prof. Joanne St. Lewis: Why I Stood Up to Racist Cyber Libel

In All on 2014/07/10 at 19:03

by Professor Joanne St. Lewis 

On June 5th, 2014, a jury ruled in the St. Lewis v. Rancourt defamation action. The decision before the Ontario Superior Court found that, the Defendant’s actions were malicious. They awarded $100,000 in general damages and $250,000.00 in aggravated damages. The Defendant has been ordered to take down his blog articles, cease defaming Professor St. Lewis and to assist in having the materials removed from Google and other search engines. The decision is likely to be appealed by the Defendant and awaits the imprimatur of the Ontario Court of Appeal and perhaps the Supreme Court of Canada. However, there are already significant benchmarks achieved that need to be immediately recognized.

The jury found that Professor Joanne St. Lewis was defamed when the Defendant used a racist insult tied to Black slave experience to describe her work for the University of Ottawa. St. Lewis never denied racism in an advisory report she authored in 2008. Her evaluation of a student report found it to be poorly written and unsubstantiated when it accused the University of having systemic racism in its academic fraud process. Despite these flaws, St. Lewis called upon the University to meet its obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and conduct a proper systemic racism analysis.


Read the full article at the website of SLAW “Canada’s online legal magazine” 

Post-verdict Interviews with Prof. St. Lewis

In All on 2014/06/06 at 15:02

Video interviews by the Ottawa Sun and Ottawa Citizen with Professor Joanne St. Lewis following the jury’s verdict in St. Lewis v. Rancourt, delivered on June 5, 2014.


Universities Should Not be Funding Defamation Suits

In All on 2014/05/07 at 14:06

by Professor Mark Mercer

Former University of Ottawa physics professor Denis Rancourt is about to go to court. Three years ago, on 11 February 2011, Rancourt wrote on his blog “U of O Watch” that documents he had seen “suggest that [U of O] law professor Joanne St. Lewis acted like [U of O] president Allan Rock’s house negro when she enthusiastically toiled to discredit a 2008 [U of O Student Appeal Centre] report about systemic racial discrimination at the university.”


Particularly puzzling, and disturbing, is that the University of Ottawa itself, by the order of its president, Allan Rock, is funding St. Lewis’s suit. By involving itself in this way, the U of O is seeking both to silence a critic and to serve notice to others that criticizing the university might be costly. A university should be a place of freedom of expression, of candid discussion and vigorous criticism. It is contrary to the mission of a university to help in the suppression of criticism, even harsh criticism, even false or unfair criticism. Its commitment must be to answer criticism, not to try to stifle it. Only answering criticism is consistent with its mission to be a place of intellectual community, and with its role as an example for the larger society.

Read the full article at the website of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs.

Keeping Criticism Honest and Civil

In All on 2013/10/17 at 05:45

Article by Professor Mark Mercer

“The question what laws should we have against defamation is always worth asking, but it’s especially pertinent now, given two cases presently before the courts. I’m referring to the suits against Ezra Levant, the writer and television show host, and Denis Rancourt, the activist and researcher who used to teach physics at the University of Ottawa.


The suit against Dr Rancourt was brought by Joanne St. Lewis, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. Ms St. Lewis claims that in 2011, Dr Rancourt defamed her in a blog post by calling her a house negro for advising U of O president Alan Rock that a report alleging systemic racial discrimination at the university was faulty.”

Read the full article at the website of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs.

I Did Not Make Professor St. Lewis Sick

In All on 2013/07/19 at 13:12

by Hazel Gashoka

I was wrongfully accused, in public, of making Professor Joanne St. Lewis sick. This is my response:

In 2008 the student union released a public report which found systemic racism at the University of Ottawa. The University asked Black law expert, Professor Joanne St. Lewis, to act as an expert to criticize the student report in a responding public evaluation report. Professor St. Lewis found that there was no basis for affirming system racism at the University of Ottawa. In 2010, I tried to contact Professor St. Lewis because I was concerned that her report served to diminish the student complaints. Professor St. Lewis failed to respond to over half a dozen of my emails and when she finally responded, she advised me that “given what [she had] on [her] plate it would best to recontact [her] towards the end of May [2010] for a meeting”.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Court’s Targets

In All on 2013/04/18 at 07:25

by Wayne Sawtell

I have attended a few of Denis Rancourt’s court hearings for the defamation case being waged against him with the unlimited financial support of the University of Ottawa. Denis said afterward that compared to hearings in which no one showed up to support him the judge and even the prosecution to a certain extent showed him much more respect, more than zero, which is not hard.

They actually took his legal arguments seriously and addressed what he said: that should be par for the course in a Canadian court of law, one would think. The bare minimum, really. Although Denis is the target of the lawsuit, it is worth bearing in mind that the public, those of us who show up and those of us who read the reporting on the case, are also a target, in a way. We are a target for propaganda of the system. Read the rest of this entry »