On Campus

Fired Ottawa prof sued for racist defamation

Denis Rancourt is in trouble again

Denis Rancourt, the University of Ottawa professor who was fired in 2009 for turning his physics course into a class on social activism and for giving everyone an A+, is being sued by an Ottawa law professor for defamation. Joanne St. Lewis, Assistant Professor of law, alleges that Rancourt wrote racist and professionally-damaging statements about her on his blog, U of O Watch. She wants $1-million in compensation.

He wrote that her evaluation of a student-produced report alleging systematic racism at the school was “an academic fraud” and he accused St. Lewis, who is black, of being a traitor to her race. She asked Rancourt to take down the offending post, but he refused.

After being served with papers Thursday, he said he plans to fight the charges. In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, he defended the use of a particular word that St. Lewis called racist in her statement of claim, which he posted on his website. “This is a term that is understood, well-defined. It has societal and historic meaning,” he said. “It’s used often by public intellectuals and critics. There are many media examples of that in the United States.”

To read more Maclean’s On Campus coverage of Denis Rancourt, click here.