2011-10-15 My response to Letter from Lawyer, University threatens legal action.
The email below was sent in response to 2011-10-06 ( Letter from University’s Lawyer threatens legal action).
The reply from the University’s lawyer to the following is posted at 2011-10-19
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October 15, 2011
McKercher, Steve Seiferling
(NOTE: the Supreme Court and the Law Society are cc’d because the use of the Justice system as a tool of intimidation is a very serious issue in need of discussion and remedy.)
Saskatoon SK Canada
Dear Mr. Stack:
RE: Your file reference 30000.455 USSWORD Infringing Use of Registered Marks (USSWORD = University of Saskatchewan Senators WOrking to Revive Democracy)
(A copy of your letter is posted at 2011-10-06 (Letter from University’s Lawyer threatens legal action) —
“ . . . cease and desist . . . If you do not comply, we have instructions to pursue all available legal remedies.”)
1. YOUR LAW FIRM, McKERCHER, REPRESENTS ME IN AN ON-GOING CASE.
I met with my lawyer yesterday and drew the conflict to attention. He was not aware of your action against me and will be discussing with you.
He told me that a decision by the Sask Court of Appeal two weeks ago relaxed the rules regarding conflicts within a law firm over client representation. As I understand the situation, even though the rules may have been relaxed, there are requirements within McKercher that have not been met. And up until two weeks ago McKercher would not be allowed to simultaneously represent AND bring action against me.
2. Let me say, regarding your letter and prior to addressing the legal issue you raise:
the justice system is a well-known tool of intimidation and coercion used by large corporate interests and the Government with seemingly unlimited financial resources, compared to the ordinary, well-intentioned private citizen.
I am acquainted with the practice. It is a disturbing trend, along with the use of the police (RCMP) to protect unregulated corporate interests (Monsanto sending the RCMP to the homes of organic farmers, Encana pipeline incidents bring out the RCMP anti-terrorist squad when unregulated, very poisonous sour gas is causing still-births and miscarriages in women and in livestock. People are trying to defend the health and lives of their family and environment. They exhaust legal remedies, are left to their wits and then characterized as terrorists. The terrorists are the large corporations like Monsanto, Encana, Lockheed Martin, etc. and their collaborators.)
It is my job as an elected Senator of the University of Saskatchewan to represent the voice of the owners of the University, the citizens of Saskatchewan. The role of “the loyal opposition” in democratic institutions is to ask the hard questions, to hold officials accountable to citizens.
The University of Saskatchewan has been and continues to use the legal system to silence and intimidate:
a. The research project spreadsheet of approximately FIFTY cases of harassment at the University, shows
– twenty cases going to the Court of Queen’s Bench
– at least seven going to the Court of Appeal, and
– others going to quasi-judiciary bodies.
– at least three of the cases are “exit with a confidentiality agreement”, commonly known as a gag order bought with a pay-out. The pay-outs are known to be large.
As a Senator representing the community interest, I see reflected in the spreadsheet literally millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees, financial settlements to aggrieved victims, and salaries paid to administrators who are dealing with the disputes. There are serious questions to be answered concerning conflict resolution at the U of S.
b. An issue raised by USSWORD is the unacceptable conflicts-of-interest at the University. Nancy Hopkins is the Chair of the Board of Governors. She has been on the Cameco Board since 1992 and as at the end of December 2009 had $1.8 million in Cameco shares. She chairs the Search Committee for the next President of the University; persons with connections to the industry are in contention for the position.
The President, Peter MacKinnon responds in Senate by proclaiming that there IS no conflict-of-interest. We all know what a wonderful person Ms Hopkins is.
A reading of the minutes of the Board of Governors indicates that Ms Hopkins does not recuse herself from deliberations related to the nuclear industry on campus.
When the Government of Saskatchewan channels $30 million to the University ear-marked for research and development to benefit the nuclear industry, is Ms. Hopkins going to uphold University autonomy in its ability to allocate funds without political interference? And is she concerned about the long-term sustainability of that program should that government funding be cut in future because they (and the nuclear industry) believe they are not getting the anticipated return on their “investment”? No.
Does she benefit from the advancement of the nuclear research at U of S? After Fukishima the world is exiting nuclear and Ms. Hopkins’ Cameco shares have taken a nose-dive. Government (public) funding, through the University, of Cameco’s interests will be extremely beneficial to the investments of Nancy Hopkins – – but (repeat) the Administration of the University contends there is no conflict-of-interest.
USSWORD raises the issues; the University seems unable to deal with them through respectful exchange. They deny and then threaten “the full force of the law”. The question is “WHY”?
Link back to the spreadsheet of harassment cases. You may or may not know: Academic Women for Justice has lodged a complaint with the Minister responsible for Post-Secondary Education, Rob Norris. They recommend that the University of Saskatchewan no longer be eligible for Canada Research Chair Funding because of the cases. This is a matter of serious concern for the owners of the University and me as a representative.
But still the “WHY”. . . . Connect the dots. (INSERT: scroll down; notice of correction sent to lawyer)
I happen to be a friend of, and have great respect for the work of Dr. Dave Schindler from the University of Alberta, awarded for example, internationally with a prize of a million dollars for his work on water. You may recognize his name more recently from the science he presented on the Alberta Tar Sands – an indictment of the Government and the Industry for their failure to protect water supplies.
The next dot: Monique Dube did her PhD work under David Schindler and later became a renowned researcher in water. She was awarded a Canada Research Chair at the University of Saskatchewan, bringing $16 million with her. I came to know of Monique because she was the ONE scientist at the University who engaged with the community around Outlook over the question of adding high-volume water users and polluters of the South Sask River, in the form of intensive cattle operations.
Then big surprise: Monique Dube recently and abruptly left the University, a great loss to the University. . . WHY did she leave? I know that in early summer she was extremely worried that the University was going to fire her which was incomprehensible given her publication and work record. The University has celebrated and profiled her virtues.
Hmmm . . . I recall a social conversation with Monique. I had been up to Wollaston Lake at a Keepers of the Water Conference. Keepers of the Water (attendees of the Conference) are First Nations people from northern Alaska, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The elders are very concerned by the levels of cancer in their communities, unknown in the past. Because of the disease levels (poisons going into the environment) they have joined hands across the North to protect their children.
Monique told me her experience by which she was obviously disturbed: she had been taking water samples in the North. They had a Geiger counter with them as they went along the shore. The counter was going crazy. What bothered her most was that children were innocently playing on the shore when even adults should not have been in the area without protection, given the readings on the Geiger counter.
Wollaston Lake = Cameco. The University of Saskatchewan = Cameco University. The connections are well documented. Please ask if you would like them.
I received a brown envelope. The Administration of the University can confirm the content. . . . Monique Dube asserted the need for laboratories at the University to be brought up to Canadian standards. As I understand, she is a professional and has worked under the world’s best. In order for her work to be scientifically reliable she must be working in laboratories that meet standards.
Whose interests are served by sub-standard laboratories? Whose interests are served if the researcher with the Geiger counter is forced out of the University?
c. The University Administration would not like the circumstances aired with regard to president MacKinnon and provost Brett Fairbairn overriding the decision of the Search Committee for the Dean of the Law School. The ultimate appointee was the thesis supervisor of president MacKinnon’s son at the University of Alberta. Yes, it would be convenient to have independent-minded senators silenced. The following was written by another very concerned member of the Saskatchewan community and submitted to USSWORD:
. . . So it is true: William MacKinnon, son of the current U of S President, was supervised for his Master of Laws degree by Dr. Sanjeev Anand. See http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/alblr45&div=7&id=&page=
Dr. Anand, as you will recall, was appointed Dean of Law at U of S earlier this year after a highly unconventional competition process. To read that story, click on the following link:
This all calls into question some of President MacKinnon’s decision-making practices and indicates how he is prepared at times to bend the rules to suit his purposes. One can readily see how William MacKinnon’s academic credentials received a huge boost upon the appointment of his thesis supervisor to the prestigious position of Dean of Law at U of S.
(INSERT: Anand is also now indebted to MacKinnon. In MacKinnon’s case, the Dean of Law job was a springboard to the Presidency of the University, a position that pays in the neighbourhood of $350,000 plus perks, last time I saw the figures. Not to mention that there may be incentive for Anand to view Will MacKinnon’s thesis work more favourably.)
Too bad that the press did not disclose this connection to the public. (INSERT: Maybe the press didn’t know.)
No wonder Peter MacKinnon was so defensive when this irregular appointment received public notice.
My guess is that when I say it is not acceptable for the President and Provost to override the Search Committee’s selection, to favour the thesis supervisor for the President’s son, I will be charged with being disloyal to the University and in breach of some responsibility.
d. My letter to the University Board of Governors ( 2006-04-12 Real-life experience. PPP’s and corruption in action. Government-University-Chemical Biotech) is further documentation of the use of the legal system to try and silence efforts to address serious abuses of democratic process. Tom Wolf works at Innovation Place, part of the University.
2004-04-10 Tom Wolf, Health Canada scientist threatens to sue me. Response – the mafia uses threat of broken bones.
EXCERPT: . . . In light of the preceding points and other statements in your letter, I view your letter to me as an intimidation tactic. Gangsters bully people through threat of broken bones. The chemical industry has an established history (I will be happy to provide specific examples should you desire them) of attempting to intimidate through the threat of harm to the person’s finances and well-being, utilizing the legal system as the weapon.
The Board of Governors of the U of S declined to address the issue presented to them. As evidenced by the research spreadsheet (numerous cases), the University relies on the same tool – the threat of use of the Justice system in order to silence people.
The University spends huge amounts on fees to law firms and in financial settlements. They do not address the underlying causes – there is denial and cover-up instead of honest attempts to address and resolve problems.
When the Government is using the University as the back door to fund the nuclear industry, when the nuclear industry is entrenched at the University, it is to be expected.
3. COMPLIANCE WITH YOUR REQUEST
Thank-you for drawing the infringement of trade mark to attention. We simply stated who and what we are doing: University of Saskatchewan Senators WOrking to Revive Democracy. The name is in the public domain and is commonly used in such designations, or so we thought.
We immediately convened a meeting and changed the name. But I now understand that what we changed the name to will also be interpreted as trademark infringement.
We are soliciting suggestions. Unfettered Spirits in Saskatchewan WOrking to Revive Democracy (USSWORD) has been suggested. Perhaps that will do.
I recommend that the University take steps to address the issues presented to it. Using the Justice system to try and silence legitimate concerns only allows the problems to grow.
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CORRECTION: sent October 25
I have crossed out an incorrect detail and another sentence thereby rendered irrelevant on the on-line copy of the email below. You can view it at http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=3366 .
It is high-lighted below (scroll down).
I was talking with Dave Schindler – – he was not Monique Dube’s thesis supervisor. I apologize for the misinformation. I HATE putting out wrong info, it affects credibility.