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Legal advice for ex-prof Rick Mehta

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Acadia should put up or pay up


I’M GLAD I’M NOT A LAWYER because, if I were, I could not write this: Rick Mehta should sue Acadia University for defamation, big-time.

Acadia says it based its decision to fire Mehta on a report it commissioned from Wayne MacKay, professor emeritus at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law and a hardy  media favourite.

Rick Mehta
Rick Mehta: Looks like a nice guy

But they won’t release his report and won’t even let Mehta have a copy unless (according to him) he agrees to keep it to himself. To me, this lowers Mehta’s reputation in the mind of a reasonable citizen, which is a good place to start a defamation suit. Put another way, in the absence of more information, we have no choice but to conclude that he’s a bad guy, which I don’t think is true.

Wayne MacKay, investigator

One way to settle matters is a defamation trial.

I recommend lawyers Dale Dunlop (902-423-8121) or Nancy Rubin (902-420-3337). The mention of either name in this context will stop a boardroom conversation cold and liquify the bowels of the directors.

I believed academic freedom and tenure were meant to make universities a safe haven for unorthodox thought. But a tenured associate professor has been fired by his university. What has this man done? How can we decide who’s right?

Here’s the media boilerplate, courtesy of The Canadian Press: “The associate professor of psychology has been outspoken on a range of contentious issues. He has come under fire for saying multiculturalism is a scam, there’s no wage gap between men and women, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has created a victim narrative.”

Dr. Peter J. Ricketts, President, Vice Chancellor
Dr. Peter J. Ricketts, President, Vice Chancellor, Acadia, did the firing

To my point about safe havens: try posting those ideas on Facebook or Twitter and see how long you keep your job. Ideally, none of us should face that dilemma, but we do. And now even academics are learning not to speak freely, so who do we turn to–unemployed bloggers and Russian fake news sites? (In some cases they’re probably one and the same. Ahem.)

CBC quotes a letter from Heather Hemming, Acadia’s vice-president academic, sent to Mehta by way of explaining the decision to hire MacKay, the investigator:

Dr. Heather Hemming Vice-President, Academic
Heather Hemming, Acadia’s vice-president academic

“These concerns relate to the manner in which you are expressing views that you are alleged to be advancing or supporting and, in some instances, time that you are spending on these issues in the classroom,” she said in a letter on Feb. 13. “The university has a legal responsibility to provide an environment free from discrimination, sexual harassment and personal harassment.”

The university has an obligation to explain in detail what it means by that last sentence not only to Mehta, but also to the mere citizens who pay a substantial portion of Acadia’s bills.

But the university has locked MacKay’s report in a vault somewhere, which makes Mehta’s life even harder because it forces us to speculate on what he’s done. Nothing good will come of that. It certainly will not help his employment prospects.

Acadia has to back up its allegations or compensate Mehta for egregious  defamation.

Ipso facto duodenum, your honour.

Postscript: Mehta has a long FaceBook post on his problems here. Look for a post dated September 9.