From a Socon or Bust reader…
I’ve been reading through the 26-page decision by Justice Toscano Roccamo regarding the attempt by Carleton University (CU) to strike the Statement of Claim in the case of Lobo and McLeod against CU.
I’ve been struck by some of the arguments which CU put forward in the case. For example:
Regarding the Charter: “CU asserts that CU is not subject to the Charter“ (Article ) That’s right. Carleton University is arguing in court that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply to it. (The essence of their argument is that the Charter applies only to government, and that CU is not the government).
Regarding its own policies: “CU argues that a policy directive has no force of law and does not create an actionable wrong from which damages can flow” (Article ). Here, in reference to CU’s alleged breaches of its Human Rights Policies and Procedures (HRPP) and Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy (SRRP), CU is stating that it is not required (by law) to follow its own policies.
Regarding having an open academic environment: “CU takes the position that the Defendants owe no fiduciary duty to all students to provide an environment free and open to discussion and debate of controversial ideas” (Article ) So CU claims that it has no obligation to be a place where free discussion and debate of ideas can take place.
Regarding responsibility for the arrests:
- “The Defendants argue that they did not arrest the Plaintiffs… CU points out that it was Ottawa Police who handcuffed and detained the Plaintiffs. (Article ) While CU asked the Ottawa Police to arrest these students, it claims that the Ottawa Police alone are responsible for the deed.
- “CU maintains that a statement of policy in a university document, without more, does not give rise to an enforceable contractual right.” (Article ) Again, CU is claiming to not be bound to follow its own policies.
- “CU… noted that it is not for an individual student to determine for the University how it ought to promote the principles of academic freedom.” (Article )
While some of CU’s claims were accepted by the court, they do make for interesting public relations reading.
Driving by Carleton University this evening I paused to read a sign which welcomes pedestrians and cyclists to the campus:
“Carleton University Private Property Authorized entry and activity only”
A friend of mine is familiar with the history of Carleton University (CU). He mentioned that the university campus lies on what used to be a garbage dump. He also mentioned that in the early days of CU, people wondered why there needed to be a second university in Ottawa, as the University of Ottawa was already well established (and run by Catholic Oblates). The answer which CU proclaimed, was:
“At Carleton University we teach you how to think, not what to think“.