Monday, October 19, 2009

How and Why the University of Ottawa got the Ottawa Police to Lay Bogus Criminal Charges Against a Student

The Rock Administration's Persecution of Student Marc Kelly Must End

In May 2008 students killed the administration’s attempt to impose a student code of conduct. Code of conduct like measures targeting individual students cannot be tolerated.

Marc Kelly’s case (described below) is the most outrageous case of targeted political discrimination against a student seen by the Student Appeal Centre. Any such injustice to a single student is an injustice to all students.

Prior to December 1st, 2008 Marc Kelly had filed multiple appeals with the University administration and had vocally denounced the injustices he had suffered at the hands of the Rock Administration. The University’s recent actions against Marc Kelly appear to be reprisal against him for having spoken out and for having ultimately taken his grievances directly to President Rock.

In light of the University’s own rules and regulations that penalize students who do not attend class, the administration’s multiple recent efforts (see below) to keep Marc Kelly out of the classroom are not only hypocritical, they raise serious ethical questions about the University administration.

The University has a societal mission to educate students and to foster and maintain an environment where freedom of expression and critical thought are welcomed and protected. Whereas the University should be lobbying the Courts to have Marc Kelly back on campus, it has done everything in its power to ensure that Marc Kelly’s freedoms are restricted.

This persecution must end.


On December 1st, 2008 undergraduate student Marc Kelly attended the University of Ottawa’s monthly Senate meeting. Inspired by the University’s Vision 2010, in particular the phrase "transparency and accountability are the principles that guide our university governance", Marc Kelly attempted to video record the proceedings in the Senate Chambers, Tabaret Hall Room 083. The Senate is the highest governing body for all academic matters at our University. On December 1st, 2008, the Senate meetings were open to all members of the public, there was no policy in effect prohibiting the use of video recording equipment and members of the media had previously recorded the proceedings.

But on December 1st, 2008, some Senators did not want to be filmed. Members of the upper administration, including then VP Academic Robert Major and then VP Governance Nathalie Des Rosiers, approached Marc Kelly. Marc explained that there was no policy prohibiting filming, and Marc suggested the issue be raised before the Senate prior to the start of the meeting.

Instead of calling for a democratic discussion on the question of video recording, the Ottawa Police was called with the full consent of VP-Academic Robert Major who presided the Senate meeting in Allan Rock's absence. Marc Kelly was handcuffed, thrown in the back of a police cruiser and bogus criminal charges were laid against him.

Many students witnessed the arrest and later filed complaints against the Ottawa Police who, once arrived on campus, began confiscating their video recording equipment and repeatedly threatened them with arrest.

A police officer told Marc that he would be released immediately only if he signed an undertaking that barred him from all University of Ottawa property. When Marc protested that he was both a student and an employee, the police officer called the University. The University lied to the police officer by saying Marc was neither a student nor an employee. When Marc asked what would happen if he refused to sign the undertaking, the police officer told him he would be held in jail for a week.

The restriction of freedom in the signed undertaking was not only outrageous, it was a contradiction of the University’s own regulations. After all, Marc Kelly is a student who must abide by the University’s rules on mandatory class attendance! After student protests, the undertaking was modified by the Court to give Marc access to campus once again, and he continued his studies.

During this time, the University kept a close watch on Marc Kelly’s whereabouts. They used the surveillance cameras on campus to store video records of his every action, they took photographs, wrote detailed reports and they sent this information to the Ottawa Police. For example, Marc was seen registering for a course at the Faculty of Science’s undergraduate office. This was reported to the police.

On January 23, 2009 in an attempt to intimidate Marc Kelly away from campus, the Ottawa Police, with the assistance of the University’s “Security Services”, falsely arrested him while he was giving a public presentation in McDonald Hall Auditorium. Marc was held in jail for several hours while students and professors successfully protested outside of the police station for his release.

During the rest of the Winter, both the Crown and the University set out to have Marc Kelly enter into a Peace Bond under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada. This would mean that the University of Ottawa would not have to defend its actions in front of a judge, and that Marc Kelly would agree to have his freedoms restricted on campus. In trying to pressure Marc to sign the Peace Bond, the University of Ottawa and the Crown Prosecutor collaborated with the Ottawa Police.

On May 14, 2009 the Ottawa Police showed up at Marc Kelly’s home late at night. They threw him in jail and stuck multiple additional bogus criminal charges against him. The Ottawa Police had used the surveillance information gathered by the University of Ottawa and accused Marc Kelly of “breaching his conditions”. For example, Marc Kelly has been criminally charged for asking a question to President Allan Rock at a public event during the question period.

DuDuring the Summer of 2009, Marc Kelly entered in negotiations with Vice President, Governance Nathalie Des Rosiers and came to an agreement with the University. The agreement included the following:

  • Marc would fast track his degree (he would avoid taking three additional mandatory electives).
  • The University would clear Marc’s debt with the University.
  • The University would award Marc with a bursary of $3500.
  • The University would ask the Crown Prosecutor to drop the bogus criminal charges against Marc.

The agreement, however, was under the condition that Marc take all of his courses at Carleton University, except for MAT 2762, which Marc would take at the University of Ottawa. A few days before the fall semester courses were to begin, the University’s Legal Council Alain Roussy emailed the ‘formalized agreement’ to Marc. The University unilaterally introduced several new elements never once mentioned by VP Governance Nathalie Des Rosiers during the many months she negotiated with Marc. The modified agreement would not only force Marc Kelly to give up his right to file a civil lawsuit against the University, the new agreement also served as an indefinite notice under the Trespass to Property Act, and included a clause prohibiting Marc from applying to any graduate or undergraduate program of study at the University of Ottawa for the next five years. The University tried (and failed) to take away Marc Kelly’s right to apply for graduate studies.

Marc Kelly’s fight continues. A trial date has been set for January 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th, 2010 while he continues to fight to regain the student rights and freedoms that have been stripped from him.

Since December 1, 2008, many students have protested the Rock administration’s treatment of Marc Kelly. In March of 2009, the Senate agreed to be filmed and adopted a policy to that effect. Videos of all Senate meetings are now posted on the University of Ottawa website.

The SAC directly appeals to President Allan Rock to stop this madness. The SAC asks President Rock to instruct Legal Counsel to petition the Crown in Marc Kelly’s favour to have all conditions of the undertaking removed immediately. The SAC asks President Rock to allow Marc Kelly to exercise his full freedoms as a student of the University of Ottawa.