More from Dorothy Palmer, the wisest person speaking to ubcaccountable
“Dear ubcaccountable signatories,
Having read all your statements, I believe a blend of friendship, good faith, and loyalty, led you to sign what you honestly saw as a call for “due process.” No one could anticipate the uproar or the union, legislative, cultural, legal, and liability ramifications. Today, you’re drowning in them. You’re clinging to deflated arguments. Please swim yourselves to shore by examining them now.
1. Can the letter ever produce “a public inquiry”? No
Addressed to UBC the letter reads, “We therefore request that the University of British Columbia establish an independent investigation into how this matter has been handled by the Creative Writing Program, The Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and the senior administration of UBC.” As I detailed in previous posts, the call for “a public inquiry,” the expensive, time-consuming body once called a Royal Commission, requires a petition legal in form and content, addressed to the government, containing signatures and addresses, and directing its scope and report. If signatories want a real “public inquiry,” please do your homework and create a legal petition.
2. Can the letter ever produce an “independent inquiry” No.
Word choice matters. The letter does not call for a “judicial inquiry,’ or even an “independent third-party inquiry.” It asks UBC to “establish” an investigation into itself. It does not direct who should be on it, what should be its focus or parameters, or how, when, to whom, or even if, it should report. It asks only that UBC inquire “into how this matter has been handled.” UBC could meet this vague demand today by issuing its own one word report: “Properly.”
3. Even if, by some miracle, UBC launched another independent third party or judicial inquiry, would it generate more public information? No
A second inquiry would be a most unlikely, expensive, and redundant choice, since UBC already hired an independent third party: Justice Boyd. Any new third party would likewise report to UBC. They would still be bound by all contractual, provincial and federal privacy laws currently prohibiting the release of information. Ironically, since many signatories appear to rely on details from the leaked Boyd report, (to which by “due process” they do not legally have access), any new independent inquiry would give them even less information then they currently have.
4. Does the ubcaccountable website model their call for “due process”? No
In a previous post, I outlined how the letter misrepresents and disrespects the democratic due process of unions. Now the website repeats those errors. A true “due process” site would permit the free speech of comments. It would not be registered anonymously and would name its owner when asked. It would repudiate anonymous twitter accounts such the ironically named, “Free Speech Zone.” It would not spin the truth, would not claim Mr. Galloway has been “forbidden to speak,” when he signed a confidentiality agreement with the advice of UBCFA. It would not cherry pick the leaked Boyd Report, would not shout that Justice Boyd dismissed all but one claim, without acknowledging that “one” claim based UBC’s decision to make a “Breach of Trust” dismissal. In short, any sincere demand for due process begins with the use of it.
5. Does the ubcaccountable website model the call for “justice for all.” No.
The website gives no voice to the complainants. It does not post articles supporting them, by them or their counsel. It is totally illogical not to strengthen their call for “due process” with the process concerns of the complainants. It would only be entirely logical not to include their voices if the real goal of both letter and website is to strengthen Mr. Galloway’s grievance defense.
6. Do any sincere advocates of “due process,” demand one-sided silencing? No.
The letter triggered immeasurable stress for many, including complainants and survivors. The letter focused on one person’s well-being, then blamed critics of the letter for his health. Some insisted their letter would “save him.” What true friend would broadcast private health concerns online? Who has the meta-ego to see a letter with their name on it as a substitute for medical care? Whether from true concern or emotional blackmail, critics were told to self-silence. This is illogical. The letter caused the stress and pain. The obvious answer to both is to send the letter to UBC, take down the website, and stop hurting all concerned. You cannot burn down your house and then demand sympathy on the grounds you are homeless.
7. Are the signatories leaving themselves open to charges of hypocrisy? Yes.
If you continue to demand the release of other people’s information protected as private by contract, and/or provincial and federal legislation, then you should be willing to also sign this: “Should I ever be dismissed, or ever make a submission that results in a colleague’s dismissal, I request, no I demand, that my employer shall immediately release all personal and private details of my dismissal and/or submission to the press immediately. I hereby waive all rights to protection, indemnify my employer, and will assume full personal liability when this information violates the privacy and contractual rights of students, co-workers or colleagues.”
You can’t ask that UBC do this unless you’re willing for every future employer to do it to you. You can’t ask for something that you know an employer is prohibited by contract and law from doing, and then blame them for not doing it. Please stop misrepresenting laws that protect us all.
8. Signatories, do you understand how your personal liabilities may be escalating?
On social media, many signatories confuse slander and libel. Slander is spoken, libel is written; one cannot commit slander on Facebook. In a move from open letter to a website, to personal statements on a website, are legal liabilities escalating? Letter, website, and authors’ responses, all use the same critical language as the defense team. UBC lawyers might have legal grounds to see collusion, a coordinated public defamation campaign, one with deliberate malice to malign UBC, to interfere in a contractual labour process, to pressure a public institution into an expensive settlement, a campaign that continued even after on line exchange made it clear their letter could not achieve “due process.” I do not know what legal risks any of this presents. Signatories, if you have not already done so, please consider legal consult.
9. Will ubcaccountable continue the fight for “due process” after the grievance settlement?
Here is the very heart of the matter. Given the impact of the letter, settlement may be imminent. UBC may agree with a defense team argument that it’s in everyone’s best interests to settle before the winter holiday. But, if they don’t want to be called hypocrites, ubcaccountable cannot be summer soldiers. They must not fold their tents. They must remain vigilant, keep demanding “due process” until they win that all-important “independent inquiry.” They cannot withdraw the letter or take down their website simply because one grievance ends. They can’t call the process “flawed,” but accept it when it suits them. Now that they have seized the high ground, they must keep defending it. They must not do anything to suggest that the call for “due process” was a cover or a sham. No one wants to believe we’ve been flimflammed, hornswoggled, and bamboozled.
This will become clear as soon as the grievance is settled. It will be private. We have no right to know anything about the settlement. We have every right to ask what ubcaccountable will do next. That will be the proof of sincerity or the lack of it.
10. Lastly, after this thorough debate, do we all understand there are only two choices left: laziness or lies?
Given the diligent attempts by so many to jump into the water, to float the research and do the stroke by stroke emotional labour that every signatory should have done before they signed anything, after all that work. learning and unlearning, there are only two choices. Signatories: today, either you are too lazy to understand your own letter or you always knew its call for “due process” was a lie. Which is it?
Please swim away from the sinking ship. Please don’t swamp this post with hot air, with the red herrings of personal attack and provocation. Please don’t waste your last gasp of air on “due process.” No one believes you. How can you possibly still believe it yourself?
If you swim to shore, thank you Please explain how you goth there and take your name off the letter. And because you’re not some frail Can-Lit couch-fainter, because you know the difference between democratic discussion and a witch hunt, please continue to use your voice. I began by saying I believe most signed in good faith and still believe it. Now it’s time for all of us to act in good faith. Will you do so now?”