Update: Student president arrested at Uottawa - Macleans.ca

Update: Student president arrested at Uottawa

After cursing in front of police SFUO chief charged with causing a disturbance.


The president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa and another student were arrested on campus Tuesday afternoon.

According to Ottawa Police services, Marc Kelly, a University of Ottawa physics student, was apprehended under the Trespassing Act. The director of the student appeal centre, Mireille Gervais, says that Kelly had been banned from the university since early December, and at the time of the arrest Gervais was meeting with Kelly to discuss his appeal. Shortly after Kelly’s arrest, student president Seamus Wolfe was also apprehended and has been charged with causing a disturbance.

Please click here to watch the video of the incident.

In an interview with Maclean’s, Gervais said that U of O protection services had been alerted to Kelly’s presence on campus around noon and visited the student appeal centre to remove him from the premises. Gervais, who has a law degree, says she explained to protection services officers that under the Trespass to Property Act, she is the “legal occupier” of the student appeals centre office and therefore has the right to determine who can and cannot enter. The SFUO rents the office from the university. “A legal occupier is described as the person who has control over the premises and control over the condition of the premises, and the activities there carried on,” she said. “The office is completely occupied by the student federation and the student federation only.”

Protection services then called the police. By that time, Wolfe had joined Gervais in front of the appeal centre. When Ottawa police officers arrived, Gervais explained her position regarding the SFUO’s control over the appeal centre, and Wolfe agreed to return to his office in order to produce a copy of the student federation’s lease agreement with the university. But, Gervais said, before Wolfe returned with the lease, the officers called the university’s legal counsel, who apparently told them simply that “the campus is U of O property, which disregards the act and disregards my position.” The police then “barged into my office and arrested Marc Kelly,” she said.

Wolfe says he then followed one of the officers on his way to his car, “asking if he would like to see the lease, and asking if he would like to produce a warrant. They refused to answer saying ‘we don’t need a warrant,’ and ‘you don’t own anything,’ even though I was trying to show him the lease.”

Wolfe’s exchange with the officer precipitated his arrest. “I got frustrated, and was starting to walk back into campus to file an official complaint with protection [services], and was obviously frustrated and swore as I was leaving,” he said. According to student Joseph Hickey, who witnessed and videotaped the entire incident, the F word was uttered before Wolfe’s arrest.

Speaking on behalf of Ottawa police services, Const. Jean-Paul Vincelette declined to comment on the details of the incident, beyond confirming that Kelly was arrested under the Trespass to Property Act, and that Wolfe was apprehended for “causing a disturbance.”

The University of Ottawa declined to comment on the incident.


Update: Student president arrested at Uottawa

  1. worst news story ever

  2. SFUO President Seamus Wolfe was arrested with the SFUO’s rental agreement in his hand, after making numerous attempts to explain his Federation’s position on its property and occupancy rights to the Ottawa Police Sergeant. Mr. Wolfe was forced to the ground in handcuffs and charged for criminal swearing – the police sergeant made no attempt to read the rental agreement.

    This happened immediately after Ottawa Police had entered an office occupied by an SFUO service (the Student Appeals Centre) without permission from the service and without a warrant, in order to arrest a trespassed student who was making an academic appeal, despite the objections and legal explanations of the rights of occupancy by the Student Appeals Centre coordinator Mireille Gervais.

    SFUO = Student Federation of the University of Ottawa

  3. The University should know better to inform Police that certain areas on Campus are leased and not subject to certain University controls. Leased premises clearly fall under this category. Students on Capmpus must be able to enjoy protection from outsiders including Police and other armed personnell. This is an internationally recognised principle.

    Police should have taken a look at that lease, which could have diffused an otherwise embarrasing situation. The court will probably chastize both the University and the Police and the two students will be totally vindicated.

  4. leasing and owning two different things under the law.

  5. Why is there a picture of a delinquent, middle-aged man accompanying an article about the arrest of a Student President?

  6. The university says it owns the Jock Turcot university centre?

    As I recall students raised the funds to build it in the 60s and the province paid the rest. Students and the University manage it jointly. The president of the University should remember, he was involved in the 60s.

    Students, city council is about to pass a new bylaw that allows police to just issue a ticket rather than a criminal charge for minor infractions like this.

  7. Regardless of who “owns” that office, if that individual was banned from University property – then they could be arrested for having trespassed on University property while in transit to those offices.

    …n’est pas?

  8. Reminds me of the Lethal Weapon movie where the bad guy kept on trying to exercise his diplomatic immunity. Where’s Murtaugh when you need him?

    If the SFUO wants its own office, outside of University property, then they should pass a referendum, buy some land and build a building.

    The University Centre belongs to all students, staff, professors, guests, alumni, and visitors.

    And don’t give me the “we pay a fee every year for UCU so we, the students own it” answer. I paid that same fee for 10 semesters from 92-97 so I own just as much of it as you do. I’ll proxy my ownership to the University.

  9. No different than China, so I would suggest Canada to keep it’s mouth shut about human rights over there.
    We have our own problems here.

  10. People who compare this incident to human rights in China need to have their heads examined! In China, you’d be clubbed or shot. How STUPID people are to make such comparisons – it BELITTLES the Human Rights cause.

  11. I see where the nickname U of Zero comes from. I just watched the YouTube clips.

    The UOttawa president and his camera man friend look like morons. Pick some better people to represent you. Those guys are a waste of skin.

  12. Another situation where a university tries to treat grown adults like children. What’s the point of paying to go to school if you’re forced to exist like like a child for another 4 years?

  13. the officer was walking back to his car and he was harassed…he did his job…I wish people would stop saying police officers are not the good guys,because they are..they were called, they didn’t just show up and then they were treated like crap

  14. Avro: “Another situation where a university tries to treat grown adults like children. What’s the point of paying to go to school if you’re forced to exist like like a child for another 4 years?”

    Were they wrong to treat Seamus Wolfe as a child? (Seamus was the one in the video who called a police officer a “f***face!”, by the way)

  15. @Matt

    Yes, the officer was wrong to abuse his power in that way.

  16. I had rice for lunch today

  17. Steve is right on the money. Regardless of who is the legal occupier of the office, in order to have arrived in said office, Marc Kelly would have had to trespass on property that is owned and occupied by the University of Ottawa. As such, the officers were well within their rights to arrest him as Marc Kelly was basically caught red-handed.

    @ Denis: Give it up already … you’re not activist; you’re more like an example of how to commit career suicide and become an absolute joke.

  18. This is why police are legally forbidden from entering campuses in most of Latin America and much of Europe. Gains made by years of student struggle. Police forces are not natural arbiters of the law, in this case they were called in, not to make a legal determination (which would have required them to either 1) wait for Seamus to get the lease…or 2) had a judge determine who is the legal occupier of the office and decide to issue a warrant or not), but no, they were called in to do the dirty work of the Administration, regardless of the law.

    And let’s not lose the medium size picture here. Kelly was unilaterally deregistered and had returned to campus to appeal that deregistration. While the comparison to China is, I agree, outrageous in terms of degree of repression, the philosophy of the unilateral decision followed by the repression of the response is the same.

  19. Hahaha “The President of SFUO is being arrested”, I am pretty sure that Seamus was embarrased enough without the idiot screaming that around campus. I agree, worst news story ever, but funniest video I have seen in a long time.

  20. Everyone who was on Kelly’s side or respects Denis Rancourt is misguided.