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Rancourt Firing by U. of Ottawa: Threat to Canada's Academic Freedom?

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Update on Professor Rancourt firing by Alan Rock and U of Ottawa
by Denis Rancourt
It appears that among the real reasons for the university’s attempts to discipline me since September 2005 and for its recent most harsh actions against me under President Allan Rock’s mandate might be the administration’s opposition to my political views about the Palestine-Israel conflict, which, starting in 2005, I have expressed in articles, on radio, in my blog postings, at public venues, and in my classes. 
 
Former Liberal Justice Minister Allan Rock Current U. of O. Head: Politics at work in firing?
 
In September 2005 the dean cancelled my Physics and the Environment course following a complaint (regarding an email comment about Zionism), channelled through the university’s Canadian Studies Institute director Pierre Anctil to the VP-Academic.  A complaint against an invited speaker in the course, Professor Michel Chossudovsky – who spoke about Middle East geopolitics, from the Jewish Student Association then gave rise to a sustained but failed attempt to discipline me. 
 
In 2006 I invited two Canadian-Palestinian speakers to address the class in my Science in Society course.  This was followed by a damning January-2007 editorial in The Ottawa Citizen and I was subsequently removed from teaching all the first-year courses that I had developed. 
 
 
 
 
For further information, updates, and access the petition link, please go to the newly updated website:

 




  

The following excerpt (and endnote) from Prof. Rancourt's statement is particularly important for grasping the links to Palestine:
The Ottawa Citizen is a CanWest newspaper and its director is a member of the university’s Board of Governors.2  CanWest Global Communications Corporation is a staunch advocate and supporter of Israeli policy. 
 
In 2007 I criticized the university’s official position on the academic boycott of Israel on my UofOWatch.blogspot.com blog.  The repression against me intensified when new university president Allan Rock, a staunch supporter of Israeli policy,3 arrived on the scene in July 2008. 
 
I was disciplined for the UofO Watch blog with an unpaid suspension in September 2008, by a decision of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors (EBOG).  The latter suspension was followed by many more severe actions against me (see below) and is being used by the university as an argument in my dismissal.   

[ENDNOTE 3]:  Allan Rock’s ardent support for Israeli policy is evidenced both in his political career and in his actions on campus as president at the University of Ottawa:  In 2004, under Martin’s Liberal government and as Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, Allan Rock changed Canada’s longstanding foreign policy on Israel from abstaining on human rights resolutions for Palestine to being one of the few countries in the World that vote with the US and Israel against UN human rights resolutions for Palestine. 
 
In July 2008 the media reported that Allan Rock participated in a trip to Israel “partly financed by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA)”, along with five other Canadian university presidents.  The media reported that Mr. Rock’s visit “yielded immediate results” as “the University of Ottawa agreed to launch an exchange program in law.” 
 
After a few months in office, President Allan Rock announced his plan in October 2008 for the University of Ottawa.  This plan included what he calls putting “Canada’s University in the service of the World”.  In explaining it to students on October 24, 2008, he talked about exchange programs.  When one student asked if Palestinian students would be allowed to participate in the exchange programs with Israel, Mr. Rock stated that he could not answer that. 
 
In the fall of 2008, the University of Ottawa chapter of the independent student-run Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) took a principled stand in line with its mission statement and refused to sponsor a Hillel event due to that organization's stated unqualified support for Israeli policy.  Allan Rock responded by pressuring the student union (SFUO) president to write a letter condemning OPIRG. 
 
A letter from the SFUO president delineated the administrative relationships between the SFUO and OPIRG and this letter was made public by Allan Rock on his president’s “Rock Talk” blog.  Allan Rock also publicly stated that he would look for an “administrative” mechanism to deny OPIRG student-levy funding (which has been approved by a student referendum).  In 2009 the Rock administration banned a student poster announcing Israeli Apartheid Week – a move widely criticized in some media such as the CBC and in the student media. 
 
This type of interventions by a president of the University of Ottawa in the affairs of student groups and associations was unprecedented.  It is consistent with the increased political influences in recent years from pro-Israel-policy groups on Canadian campuses – documented in the media, such as in this CBC-Ottawa radio report:

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