University of Ottawa President Crawls Out From Under Rock

Posted April 17th, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

The President of the University of Ottawa, Allan Rock, has broken his silence on what he thinks about the cancelled Ann Coulter speaking engagement on March 23. The visit is said to have been cancelled by Ms.Coulter’s organizers when angry student protesters showed up to block her from speaking and there were some concerns for her safety.

The incident made a mockery of the free speech debate, and fans of Ann Coulter were angry that the engagement had to be cancelled, blaming an incendiary email from University Provost Francois Houle. Mr.Houle had welcomed the American Conservative in a letter also sent to media organizations, while at the same time warning her that Canada has strict laws on hate speech and that she could face criminal prosecution if she violated those laws.

In retaliation, Ms.Coulter has been reported as launching a Human Rights complaint that Mr.Houle incited hatred against an identifiable group. In her case, that would be conservatives. She also denigrated the University in her typical joking style, before moving on to the University of Calgary, which went ahead without further incident.

Mr.Rock, had previously served in the Cabinet of Jean Chrétien, most notably as Justice Minister and Health Minister, before beginning his jobs as University of Ottawa President on July 15, 2008.

He said recently in an interview that his first instinct was to defend the University publicly, but decided to wait and “reflect” on the matter for several weeks. He had initially been approached by the students’ association to stop the Coulter speech, but refused. He did, however, attempt to learn more about her and found himself “using intemperate language” when discussing what he had seen on her website.

He then admitted that Mr.Houle went ahead with his letter to Ms.Coulter with full authorization from Mr.Rock.

“It was sent on behalf of the administration with my knowledge, so I share responsibility,” Rock said. “I acknowledge that there were other and better ways of achieving the letter’s purpose.”

How nice of him to admit his share of responsibility, though he let Francois Houle take the brunt of that responsibility for the past month. Since he green-lighted the letter as President of the University, one might even say he owns more than just a share of responsibility for the patronizing and admonishing pre-crime warning sent to Ms.Coulter. It is especially interesting to note that Mr.Rock claims to be so unaware of the political presence that Ann Coulter holds in the United States, yet he decided to become involved in an official rebuke of her political views.

There’s no slipping out of this one. Saying that “there were other and better ways of achieving the letter’s purpose” is refusing to apologize for the situation that he and Mr.Houle directly created.

University Of Ottawa Gets A Big Failing Grade

Posted April 12th, 2010 in Canada by Adrian MacNair

“ I’m guessing the scores to get into the University of Ottawa are not very challenging. ” — Ann Coulter, March 23, 2010

This is one point upon which I think most people are in agreement.

A 2008 national survey of students asked “if you could start over, would you go to the institution you are now attending?” Senior University of Ottawa students responded with answers that placed the U of O 52nd out of 53 ranked Canadian Universities.

Well as Macleans Magazine’s 2009 rankings show, the University of Ottawa has managed to maintain its commitment to failure:

Level of Academic challenge: 39 out of 52
Student-Faculty interaction: 50 out of 52
Active and collaborative learning: 48 out of 52
Enriching educational experience: 43 out of 52
Supportive campus environment: 52 out of 52

Satisfied with quality of teaching: 29 out of 31
Satisfied with decision to attend U of O: 29 out of 31

Senior year students ranking of education experience: 53 out of 53
Senior year students who would go to their school if given chance again: 52 out of 53

UPDATE

Wow, just noticed this. The 2010 results are in and Ottawa is dead last again.

Thanks Francois Houle, For Making Coulter More Popular

Posted March 23rd, 2010 in Canada, united states by Adrian MacNair


AP / Jose Luis Magana

I haven’t chimed in with my outrage that Vice-President Academic and Provost at the University of Ottawa, Francois Houle, sent a nasty letter to Ann Coulter, rightwing polemic, warning her not to use naughty language in Canada. I haven’t done so mainly because I knew from the moment that letter hit the media that Ann was rubbing her bony fingers together with glee. You couldn’t have given her a better reason to come to Canada, had you literally burned her books on Parliament Hill.

The fact of the matter is that I don’t think Ann Coulter is a hate monger, or a racist, or a fascist, or whatever other terminology the Francois Houle’s of Canada are using for her. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I don’t think about Ann Coulter, full stop. I recognize her for what she is, and it works quite well for her career, but I have no intention of promoting her with either hate or love diatribes.

For that’s what Ann Coulter thrives on. She exists to live in the comfortable world of the polemicist, vilified by the left, extolled by the right, her purpose in political punditry is to ride the fine line of infotainment and news. She’s like a more serious version of Stephen Colbert, except that she doesn’t make it quite as obvious. When she tells a Muslim to ride a camel instead of flying in an airplane, she’s playing the game, and we’re all lapping it up.

Is Francois Houle a braying donkey for having written a letter threatening her with statist censorship and reminding her that we live in a not-quite-free society? You bet he is! And for that, the nation was considerably embarrassed. Enough so that you had people from all political stripes condemning Mr.Houle, after a formal disclaimer that they don’t like Ann Coulter or what she has to say.

It isn’t that I don’t like Ann Coulter, although I have to admit that I have a compulsion to take her to a Wendy’s and buy her as many triple patty combos as my wallet can bear. No, it’s that I don’t think she can really be taken seriously within the context of developing coherent conservative policy making, since she’s prone to saying things that betray her purposes as a well-paid conservative commentator.

She’s a comedian. And a damned good one, actually. I mean, nobody should seriously believe she means it when she says we should invade the Middle East, kill everybody, or convert them Christianity. Of the infamous domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh, she once said her only regret “is he did not go to the New York Times Building.” Of Barack Obama she mocked his experience: “As the leader of twelve apostles, even Jesus had more executive experience than Obama.”

Most of her stuff is even funny, in a black humour kind of way. She says outrageous things in front of the camera with a curling smirk on the side of her mouth, and then sits back and basks in the glow of the love and hate that follows. She learned a long time ago that she can make a hell of a lot of money doing this kind of stand-up comedy, and I don’t blame her.

But then you have people like Francois Houle, an academic of all people, who with all of his big book learning, can’t see Ms.Coulter for what she is. He invites her, quite insincerely, to a “meaningful exchange of ideas”, before threatening her not to say Coulterish things.

Well, that would sort of defeat the purpose of inviting her, wouldn’t it? I mean, you wouldn’t invite Jerry Seinfeld to do standup and then ask him to please refrain from cracking jokes, would you? She isn’t here to give a serious analysis of American domestic and foreign policy. That isn’t her job.

So thanks, Francois. You can’t buy this kind of popularity. From the bottom of her heart, I’m sure Ann Coulter would thank you, if it wouldn’t break character, of course.