Release: Public Money is Not for Silencing Critics: OCLA asks University of Ottawa to end its financing of a private defamation lawsuit

(Ottawa, August 28, 2013) — The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) has written to both president Allan Rock and law dean Nathalie Des Rosiers to ask that the University of Ottawa stop financing a private defamation lawsuit against its outspoken critic Denis Rancourt.

The lawsuit is about a blog article on “U of O Watch” in which Rancourt concluded (correctly, it turned out) that the president had asked a black professor to criticize a student report that accused the university of racial discrimination.

Rancourt has published his “U of O Watch” blog since 2007, and is a former professor of the university. The private action was initiated in 2011. The Ontario Superior Court recently scheduled the matter for a three-week trial starting May 12, 2014.

The University of Ottawa is using public funds to finance the lawsuit. University president Allan Rock admitted under cross-examination that he approved the financing without a spending limit (with “no cap”) from the university’s operating budget.

Based on court submissions for legal costs, OCLA estimates that the university has spent over $1 million to date pursuing Rancourt, who was fired by the university in 2009, and who is self-represented in the civil action.

OCLA’s position statement about the U of O funding is available at:

OCLA’s letter to Mr. Rock is posted at:

OCLA’s letter to Ms. Des Rosiers is posted at:

About the Ontario Civil Liberties Association
OCLA is an organization formed to defend civil liberties at a time when fundamental freedoms are subjected to a systemic erosion in all spheres of social life. OCLA opposes institutional decisions that remove from the individual his or her personal liberty or exclude the individual from participation in the democratic functions of society.


Joseph Hickey
Executive Director
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)
613-252-6148 (c)

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