THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE INSTITUTION
Is my heritage, Jeremiah asks (12.8), to be a speckled bird persecuted by all ordinary birds of the air? While I was editing this book with EE on Corruption in Canada, I was under continued and intensive 'investigation' by the Provost's Office of the University of Toronto: from 7 October 1993 to the present. On 30 March 1994 1 was actually barred by the Provost from the campus, including all the libraries, my office, my books, and my files. At the same time the University expected me to proceed with my sabbatical work.
In early July 1994 1 was given a contract for the coming academic year, my classes and hours of work assigned while at the same time the ban against my presence on campus had not been rescinded. The only way out of this impasse, I began to think, would be for me to hire a hot-air balloon from which, over the ground, I could address my assembled students whose feet, I presumed, would be allowed to touch terra firma.
I was given the impression that a compromise might have been reached if I had been prepared to abandon the present book. Nevertheless, I persisted and prepared a detailed refutation of the trumped-up charges and allegations that had come from the Provost's Office. While in Ireland, I arranged to have my response delivered to the Provost's Office before the deadline on 15 July.
It would appear that the Provost's Office is not as efficient as it thinks itself to be: on 15 July it informed the Toronto Star that I had missed the deadline. Had this been true, I would have been found guilty by default. My friend who had delivered my response phoned the Star, and the Provost's staff did finally find my 43,000-word document in one of their offices. They could compile no counter-argument. The capitulation was total, and on 28 July 1994, after nine and a half months of intensive 'investigation', my solicitors informed me in Ireland that the University had effectively dropped all the allegations and charges against me. How wonderful it is that the forces of law still stand firm in Canada, and that the individual can still vindicate himself against the charges of an institution. In today's Irish Times (1 August 1994), I note a ruling of Mrs. justice Denham, Judge of the High Court in the Republic of Ireland: 'The principle that is fundamental to the rule of law is that persons in authority must be able to justify their actions. If there is no proper legal basis for their actions, such conduct is unlawful.'
My case would not have been so decisive without the testimony and support of the young and the innocent - my students. I was touched to the heart by their idealism and their feelings of outrage that such an inj ustice should have been visited upon a teacher whom they respected and honoured. I take the liberty of quoting an extract from one of the letters I received: 'The very fact that this type of investigation can take place at an institute of "higher" learning has solidified my intention to seek a life in a country other than Canada once my undergraduate studies are complete. If anything is being "compromised" here, it is the liberty of individual Canadians'(12). The pen is mightier than the sword. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Note: The above was written before I was suspended on a technicality by the University on 1 September 1994 (see Postscript, p. 550).