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.