By Kuhl, Nick on June 7, 2018.
Part four of a five-part special report
Here is part four of The Herald’s sit-down with Tony Hall.
Herald: “What do you mean “in limbo”? Can you give me a concrete example?”
Hall: “Yes. One such matter concerns the holding back by the university administration of information that is very relevant to the investigation of this significant series of episodes in the institutional life of the University of Lethbridge.
“In response to our FOIP requests to the university administration we received only limited and often unsatisfactory releases of relevant documents. Many key documents were withheld that would undoubtedly shed more light on a variety of topics relevant to this case. In a dozen different instances university lawyer Scott Harling invoked the rationale of “solicitor-client privilege” to hold back relevant information. What are the implications of such wholesale resort to justifying secrecy in ways that cut against the need for accountability from a public institution funded in significant measure by taxpayers’ dollars.
“The FOIP investigations done on my behalf were carried out by Ken Rubin, an Ottawa-based expert on such matters. Mr. Rubin was contracted by the CAUT to provide this service. In his report to CAUT executive director, David Robinson, Mr. Rubin explained, “The most concerning point in the University of Lethbridge records provided is the lack of much information about [the administration’s] own investigation of HallÉ Incredibly, the records show President Mahon invited four external groups (B’nai Brith et. al.) to consult with Robert Thompson, the university’s [former] external lawyer investigating the Hall case, where they could have legal counsels present. Yet it appears Hall was never consulted or approached, at least there are no records to that effect.
“I can confirm I was not invited to the secret meetings organized by Dr. Mahon and Robert Thompson to discuss with representatives of the outside lobby the matter of my labour relations with the University of Lethbridge. Nor was ULFA informed of, or made party to, these secret meetings. In the primary sources appended to my report to the investigating panel, I have included the letters from Dr. Mahon to officials of the Calgary Jewish Federation (CJF) and the Centre for Israel and Affairs (CIJA).
“The letters of Oct. 20, 2016 were part of the material received from the FOIP Office of the University of Lethbridge. In the letters composed in the immediate aftermath of my suspension, Dr. Mahon proposes to Mathew Godwin of the CIJA and to Jeffrey L. Smith Q.C. of the CJF, ‘if you would like to have legal counsel present, Mr. Thompson would be happy to accommodate this.’
“The text of the letters appeared under the heading, ‘Re: Anthony Hall.’ It is troubling and difficult for me to consider the assumptions underlying the legal construction of this procedure. It makes of me an object, a subject matter – Re: Anthony Hall – rather than a participant in negotiations to determine my own future.
“The understanding seems to be that by suspending me, the U of L board and president excluded me from any requirement even to copy me in correspondence concerning my future. Certainly there was a determination that I was to be excluded from deliberations quite probably directed at terminating my still-unextinguished status as a tenured professor at the University of Lethbridge. Did those who implemented my suspension assume that their actions negated my status even as a citizen as well as a faculty member?
“Silent volumes are spoken by the fact of ULFA’s pre-emption in the process by an external lobby group notwithstanding that the main subject on the table was labour relations with a controversial faculty member. The episode seemingly offers a textbook example of the subordination of a university board to the political machinations of a powerful external lobby. How can vital imperatives of academic freedom be maintained in an educational milieu where powerful external lobbies can sometimes alternate between carrot-and-stick tactics to gain enormous influence over university administrators?
“I suspect that the secret negotiations between the board’s former lawyer and some legal representatives of the Israel lobby in Canada came up with interpretations and perspectives that found their way into the first and second complaints to the AHRC. Some of the substance of these earlier complaints re-appeared in the complaint of Nov. 23 authored by former Acting Dean of Arts and Science, Dr. Michelle Helstein.
“I have my doubts and concerns about the possible ongoing role of the external lobby in this case. Recall that the external lobby introduced its hostility to aspects of my academic work as a tenured professor with a blitzkrieg-style deployment of social media in the Facebook deception initiated on Aug. 26 of 2016. Is there an ongoing involvement of the external lobby still operative in the background of the current proceedings? Is the investigating panel replicating old patterns of stealthy procedure epitomized by the secret lawyers meetings instituted with the label, “Re: Anthony Hall?
“I am attempting to show good faith in the current proceedings. I am doing so by proposing to bring forward witnesses. The witnesses would include one or more of my former students to comment on my teaching if that is to be a topic of investigation.
“In addition I have put forward the name as a witness of Dr. Graeme MacQueen. With a PhD from Harvard, Dr. MacQueen is the founder and first executive director of the Peace Studies program at McMaster University in Ontario.
“In anticipating on March 1 of this year Dr. MacQueen’s possible role as a witness, I wrote,
‘Dr. MacQueen’s scholarly activism as a proponent of peace and as an opponent of militarism in all its many manifestations forms the main connection that originally brought him to 9/11 Studies. His thesis is that, in order to offer a viable resistance to the 9/11 wars, some solid evidence-based analysis of who did what to whom in the originating episode of the Global War on Terror is a necessary condition for the growth and effectiveness of a viable peace movement.’
U of L officials were given the opportunity by The Herald to respond to all of Hall’s direct claims. They provided this statement:
“The University of Lethbridge will not provide any comment on the background or the process currently underway related to Dr. Hall. The process was agreed to by Dr. Hall, the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) and the University of Lethbridge Board of Governors. To comment at this time would be inappropriate and irresponsible.”
See Friday’s Herald for part five of this special five-part series.
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