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Surrogates, Sycophants, Soldier Ants, and Sheep: Debunking The Steven Galloway Innocence Project

January 12, 2017

Before we smugly tell ourselves that the spinning of fake and cherry-picked news ends at our Canadian border, let’s reconsider the story telling of Steven Galloway’s dismissal from Head of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. It reveals our own equally uncomfortable post-truths.

We have our own huge celebrities with an aversion to apologies. We give them serious media coverage, even on topics where they have no more expertise than actress anti-vaxxers or Ted Nugent. In further de-professionalization, eager to trumpet a celebrity scandal, our media legitimizes leaked documents and lazily conflates interpretation with fact. This punches the ticket for social media to rev up its own bandwagons. Surrogates, sycophants, soldier ants, and sheep, claim equal expertise. Anonymous axe bangers, sniper trolls, pop-up pundits, and an emboldened alt-right, all jump into bed with the just plain wrong. Combine these post-truthers, and yet again, a narrative absolving a powerful man accused of harming women gets shaped, spun, and swallowed.

How does a successful single narrative get constructed – in this case, one which paints Mr. Galloway as an innocent victim – when today’s public is more plugged-in than ever before? The dovetailing of mainstream and social media requires three things: a strategic control of “the facts,” celebrity endorsement that rings with moral superiority, and the tireless reinforcement of social media soldier-ants eager to shoot on sight. Before long, not only are we saturated by the truth as innocence storytellers tell it, but in the true success of the single narrative, no one realizes that the truth has been reduced to only what they tell of it.

So how do we debunk an Innocence Project?

Forty years before I became a teacher, writer, and union activist, my first training was as a historian. My mentor, Professor Craig M. Simpson, of the University of Western Ontario, taught me two skills I have thanked him for every day since: He asked me to ask myself, “How do you know what you know?” And to answer that question, he taught me the art of close reading, how to carefully evaluate primary and secondary documents for factual accuracy and bias. To separate the facts from the fictions of Mr. Galloway’s dismissal requires a very close reading, asking: “How do we know what we know?” “Where did this “fact” come from?” “Is this a primary or a secondary source?” “Is it reliable?” “Has it been re-interpreted, or misinterpreted?” “By whom?” “Who benefits from its belief?”

The first and most important point in any discussion of Mr. Galloway’s dismissal is that there are no primary sources available to the public. Nor should there be. Primary sources are the raw data, the first-hand, first-person accounts of the participants — in this case, statements from, and interviews with, both the accused and his accusers. Given the combined confidentiality requirements of privacy law, provincial labour statutes, union grievance procedure, and signed confidentiality agreements, the public rightly has no legal access to any of this documentation from any party. UBC cannot legally release it.

From this primary disclosure, came one authoritative secondary source: The Boyd Report, a summary of evidence and legal opinion by retired B.C. Supreme Court Justice, Mary Ellen Boyd. One step removed from the story, like any secondary source, the Boyd Report’s primary function is to summarize, and evaluate. The full body of primary source disclosure has always been larger than her Report.

As Mr. Galloway’s union, the UBC Faculty Association, has correctly stated, no disclosure of any kind should ever have been released. Only UBC has the full body of primary disclosure. Only three parties got legal copies of the Boyd Report summary: Justice Boyd, UBC and Mr. Galloway. All signed confidentiality reports; by law, they can share it only with legal counsel. The Boyd Report got leaked illegally and selectively. Accordingly, any social media commentary on it, any articles that cite it, are all secondary sources twice removed. They are secondary sources quoting a leaked secondary source. None of them are authoritative. All of them are interpretive.

And they are unverifiable. Because the Boyd Report was leaked, no article that cites it can be fact-checked to it. Nothing can likewise ever be checked to the larger body of disclosure which has never been leaked. Accordingly, any journalist or social media “expert” who quotes the Report does so in one of three ways: 1. They have seen what they were told are redacted portions of it, which they cannot fact check or confirm. 2. They have been given what they were told was the Boyd Report, told by whoever leaked it to them that is complete and unaltered, which they likewise can neither fact-check nor confirm. 3. They have never read any part of the Report, and have written a thrice-removed secondary source that simply re-quotes prior media coverage.

Someone could “leak” anything they wanted and call it the Boyd Report. Who could prove them wrong? Given its wholly unverifiable nature, journalistic integrity requires it should be labeled what it has never once been called: “the alleged Boyd Report.” Anyone who claims to have seen any part of it cannot confirm its authenticity. No journalist has ever seen the full body of disclosure. In short, any writer who claims to know the full story of why Mr. Galloway was fired is clearly “over-stepping.” Anyone who asserts his innocence is spinning a story of their own making. A close reading does not support this interpretation.

As recapped in The Ubyssey, (June 22, 2016), on November 18, 2016, Mr. Galloway was suspended with pay from his position as tenured associate professor and chair of Creative Writing after UBC received “serious allegations of misconduct.” UBC found itself in a proverbial Catch-22: Legally-bound both to make an announcement and to say as little as possible in it. To protect the privacy of all parties, UBC could not divulge specifics. Many have suggested the announcement could have been more judiciously worded, and rightly pointed out that UBC’s only answer to the media hounding that followed should have been, “We cannot comment on an on-going investigation.” UBC should not have given any follow-up interviews, even ones that remained deliberately vague to protect the privacy of all involved.

On the other hand, if UBC had been more specific, if they had done what Mr. Galloway’s supporters seem to think they should have done, and officially stated that he was no threat to to student body, they would have been lying. They didn’t know if he was or not. They suspended him with pay pending investigation to determine exactly that. And if they had released any further details, Mr. Galloway would have had cause to sue them. To date, if UBC releases any details of the investigation, any of the parties could still sue them. After a few initial public statements repeating that they could not elaborate, no doubt at the urging of lawyers, UBC refused all further commentary and have done so ever since.

Supporters of Mr. Galloway and the complainants have both criticized UBC’s process, but only one side has exploited it. Mr. Galloway’s defenders seized upon UBC’s minimal announcement, not as legally required and protective, but as damaging, as the first “proof” of a lack of “due process.” They leapt to condemn legally-mandated silence as “proof” that UBC’s process was everything they have called it since: “mishandled,” “flawed,” “unsubstantiated,” “botched,” “secretive,” “undemocratic,” and “shady.” In cynical opportunism, they filled the void created by those who respected legal silence with “news” of their own making.

The media aided and abetted this spin. To date, no publication has explained the the legal requirement for silence. None explain why parties are bound by law to respect signed confidentiality agreements. No one asked who violated theirs and why. By not debunking the misrepresentation of legal silence, the media empowered the sexier innocence interpretation: that silence means secret and suspicious.

The facts are far less sensational. Each step and every deliberation of UBC’s seven-month review had by law to remain private. Two days after suspension, UBC took an extra, voluntary step to ensure that due process via third-party objectivity. As confirmed again in The Ubyssey. “On November 20, 2015, the Honourable Mary Ellen Boyd, a former justice of the BC Supreme Court was engaged to conduct an investigation. Her report was given to the Dean of Arts—Dr. Gage Averill—on April 25, 2016.”

Consider what the innocence narrative asks us to believe: that Justice Boyd reviewed the case for five months, then gave her findings to UBC who reviewed all “flawed” disclosure for another two. The Arts Dean re-reviewed the entire “botched” body of of primary and secondary disclosure, including the Boyd Report, and passed his recommendation on to then-UBC-President Martha Piper. During this “mishandled” process, reviewers met with Mr. Galloway and the complainants. During this “shady” process, Mr. Galloway had the free legal counsel of his union, UBCFA. After a seven-month investigation, he was fired by a “undemocratic” vote of the 21-member UBC Board of Governors, all bound by the “secretive” Code of Ethics found on their website. They voted for termination without severance or a departure package. Of course all these legally-vetted, democratic decisions were “unsubstantiated.”

The innocence narrative hinges most critically on what happened next: UBC’s press release. UBC VP External Relations, Philip Steenkamp, is quoted here from The Canadian Press, (June 23, 2016): “Coupled with the dean’s recommendation and the investigative findings… the President concluded that there was a record of misconduct that resulted in an irreparable breach of the trust placed in faculty members by the university, its students and the general public.”

Please read this statement aloud. Then ask anyone who has followed this story why Mr. Galloway was fired. They’ll confidently say, “For a breach of trust.” And they will be wrong. Please see UBC’s reason for dismissal: “A record of misconduct.” Steenkamp stipulates that it was this “record,” defined as multiple instances of “misconduct,” that then, “resulted in an irreparable breach of the trust placed in faculty members, by the university, its students, and the general public.”

How did the media get it wrong? In search of a soundbite, the media swapped cause for result. They ignored “a record of misconduct,” to embrace a recognizable, but in this case erroneous and invented soundbite: ‘a breach of trust.’ This phrase does not appear anywhere in the press release. In the Globe and Mail (October 28, 2016) Marsha Lederman correctly wrote, “an irreparable breach of … trust.” But within hours, all reports of Mr. Galloway’s dismissal began inaccurately reducing and rephrasing the cause to, “an irreparable breach of trust,” and then even more reductively, “a breach of trust.”

Why did we all get it wrong? Because we heard it so often. Over the next six months, from June to date, this reductive story-telling triumphed. Mainstream and social media dovetailed, repeating “a breach of trust,’ until no one questioned it. The soundbite often gained the legal weight of capitals, began appearing as, “A Breach of Trust.” When I check my Facebook posts, I number myself as committing that error. The soundbite sounded authoritative, so I accepted it and repeated it. I was wrong. My apologies.

Enter UBCFA President, Mr. Mark Maclean. In post-dismissal heat, under professional responsibility to defend his union member, on June 22 in the Ubyssey, Mr. MacLean stated: “We wish to clarify that all but one of the allegations, including the most serious allegation, investigated by the Honourable Mary Ellen Boyd were not substantiated.” UBCFA immediately recognized they should not have commented on a confidential report, and have correctly refused to comment since.

Mr. Maclean’s comment, already a biased, defense interpretation, has since been re-interpreted beyond recognition. Social media soldier ants began quoting it to “prove” that the “breach of trust” had not been a serious one. They began insisting, not only that they knew Justice Boyd had rejected all allegations but one, but that they knew which one. Lamenting the unfairness that Mr. Galloway was fired for “one lone breach,” and “not even the most serious one,” they began chanting that UBC had “overstepped the Boyd Report.” In his November 23 press release, Mr. Galloway’s personal lawyer, Mr. Olthuis, then kindly supplied exactly what he wants everyone to believe that one breach had been: something no one should lose their job for, something Mr. Galloway had already apologized for: a consensual two-year affair.

Inseminated by a strategically leaked report, allegedly the Boyd Report, this reductive story-telling again birthed “truth” by repetition: Kerry Gold’s article in the Walrus, Madeline Thien’s letter to UBC, the Open Letter by Joseph Boyden, signatory statements on, Mr. Olthuis’ press release, and the swarming of sycophants, especially on twitter at #ubcaccountable. It found its greatest misrepresentation in another Walrus article by David Mount. Each spin deserves individual examination.

Enter Ms. Kerry Gold. In her Walrus article, “L’Affaire Galloway,” (Sept. 14, 2016) she admits, “The Boyd report has never been released to the public—but the contents were made available to the Walrus during the course of my reporting.” Was she shown “the contents” or the whole report? How can she be sure that what she saw even was the Boyd Report? She can’t. Did she check with anyone who had read the Boyd Report for confirmation? Apparently not. Since “the contents” were only “made available,” perhaps she wasn’t’ allowed to keep a copy? These questions raise serious concerns about both the motivations behind this “leak,” and the biases of any reader who accepts its any of its reportage on face value.

Ms. Gold betrays her sympathies in her first sentence, “When the police arrived at his Holiday Inn room, Steven Galloway had been crying, but he was not, he insisted, suicidal.” Just as she does not state how she got the leaked Report, she likewise does not divulge how she got an equally confidential Ohio police report which she quotes verbatim to explain those hotel tears: “The police report states that Galloway was ’very upset at these false allegations, as they are likely to lead to him losing his job’.” One can only hope the Walrus fact-checked that an American police officer really did risk his job by unprofessionally, in writing, denouncing Canadian “allegations” as “false.”

Ms. Gold further fails to mention that her possession of the alleged Boyd Report violates a signed confidentiality agreement, but eagerly interprets the law in favour of the party who likely broke it: “But after studying the matter, Boyd threw out nearly every allegation made against him, including the assault claim… Only one complaint stuck: Boyd determined that Galloway had conducted an inappropriate relationship with a middle-aged student—a relationship that, according to sources, had lasted several years …” Ms. Gold ends with her expert legal opinion condemning UBC’s treatment of Mr. Galloway: “despite his having been largely exonerated by the report it commissioned—he was fired.”

Let’s be clear: this secondary source “exoneration,” this personal interpretation of an unverifiable “leaked” report, by someone who is not a lawyer, whose sympathies clearly lie with the accused, who has never produced the alleged Report for verification or fact-checking, this biased spin, has backboned the Innocence Project ever since. As have the on-going attempts to discredit the complainants.

Enter Ms. Madeleine Thien. Twelve short days after the Walrus article, she published her September 26, 2016, letter to UBC. In open defense of her friend, Mr. Galloway, Ms. Thien writes, “I make no apology for knowing the precise details of the report. I was given the document to read in late June 2016, after UBC’s decision to terminate Steven without severance…” She adds, “As a survivor of sexual assault, I do not take the law lightly…” and “My work in China, Cambodia and Zimbabwe has convinced me that we are dependent on the foundation of criminal and constitutional law, the necessity of evidence, and a right to a fair hearing. Without these unassailable rights, any individual can have their life destroyed.”

Having seized this legal and moral high ground, using a leaked report she has no legal right to read, let alone divulge, Ms. Thien then proceeds to ignore a non-disclosure agreement, to substitute her celebrity for law and legislation, and in a potentially life-destroying fashion, to violate the dignity and privacy of nine complainants. She quotes their private testimony at length, rejecting it all as petty hogwash. She provides her own expert legal opinion: “Ms. Boyd … found that she could not, based on the civil standard of proof on a balance of probabilities, substantiate the primary allegations of the main complainant.” If we are to believe Ms. Thien, UBC’s executive, Board of Governors, and fleet of lawyers, had no reason and no evidence of any kind, when they fired her good friend Mr. Galloway.

Did the media press Ms. Thien, as they should press any source quoting an alleged Boyd Report no one else could read? No. Were they careful to note that her interpretations came from a layperson and an upset friend? No. Was any concern for the possibility that she might be opening to herself to charges from the complainants whose privacy she violated? Apparently not. Ms. Thien’s letter revved up the social media bandwagon, was widely reported in the mainstream press. Every article showcased her impressive writing awards, cementing her as a true celebrity who need not be challenged. No one seemed the least bit concerned that she, or they, might be being used to spread, confidential private information, or even fabricated information. No reporter asked who the leak and the letter served.

That’s still a question still worth asking. Were Ms. Gold and Ms. Thien hand-picked by Mr. Galloway and/or his lawyers, given the alleged Boyd Report, and asked to leak a favorable interpretation? Were they coached? We’ll never know. We’ll never know if either got the whole, complete and unaltered Report, and neither will they. We do know they weren’t given the full body of primary disclosure.

What motivated Ms. Thien, who stated that she got the report ‘in late June,” to draft her letter a full three months later, on September 26? Again, we’ll never know. We do know that her letter, addressed to UBC officials and Mr. Galloway, immediately also went to the press. Coincident with the three-week award season immediately following its publication, when her recent novel did as well as expected, and won both the Governor General’s Award and the Giller Prize, Mr. Galloway’s Innocence Project got to bask in the reflected celebrity light of the kind of free publicity that no one can buy.

On a personal note, three years ago, I spent a weekend at the same five-person work table as Ms. Thien at the Canada Council Forum on the Literary Arts. In that short acquaintance, I found her an intelligent listener, a calm, kind, and above all measured thinker. I struggle to believe that the section of her letter detailing a vicious point-by-point takedown of the complainants was her idea. After years of court battles with a spouse in default of his support payments, the language of that section sounds less like the dispassionate summary tones of a Justice and exactly like a rebuttal from a defense lawyer out to discredit the complainants’ testimony. And I instantly recognize Ms. Thien’s first sentence. It’s off-tone to her otherwise heartrending letter, but is the stock legalese that prefaces all legal correspondence to document and authenticate future court disclosure with a follow-up hand-written signature: “Sent by email. Signed letter to follow to all recipients by post.”

Let’s be specific: rejecting the idiotic notion that the Justice or UBC leaked the Report, either Mr. Galloway and/or his counsel leaked what it claimed was the Boyd Report to Ms. Gold and Ms. Thien. In other words, an unverifiable document, strategically leaked by the accused, cherry-picked in selective sympathy by two hand-picked surrogates–these two totally suspect biased interpretations have become the secondary sources quoted ever since as if they were primary sources. As if they were gospel.

Enter Ms. Marsha Lederman. When social media asked questions about the leak that journalists should have, pro-innocence voices tried to pin it on the complainants. Ms. Lederman’s Globe and Mail article (Oct 28, 2016), “Under a cloud: How UBC’s Steven Galloway affair has haunted a campus and changed lives,” proves that impossible. She saw only two heavily redacted portions of the Boyd Report that the two complainants she interviewed showed her. By law, any portion of the Report given a complainant would be limited to their own testimony, with as Ms. Lederman confirmed “information about other complainants and witnesses edited out to protect confidentiality.” To get even these portions, Lederman adds, “the women had to submit requests under freedom-of-information legislation.”

Like Ms. Gold, and Ms. Thien, Ms. Lederman had no way to fact check the authenticity of what she was shown, but to date, tweeting true-believers continue to blame the complainants for leaking the whole Boyd Report. This is absurd. As per the Freedom of Information Act and as reported by Ms. Lederman, the Ancillary Complainants own only redacted portions confined to their own testimonies. As confirmed by the Main Complainants’ lawyer, Laura Birenbaum, the MC could not possibly have leaked the Boyd Report because neither she nor her lawyer have never been permitted to see it. Mr. Galloway would have full rights to sue UBC or Ms. Boyd had any of the complainants ever been given a full copy of the Report, and a full copy is what both Ms. Gold and Ms. Thien claim to have read.

Enter Joseph Boyden, another good friend of Mr. Galloway, and author of the founding document of the UBCaccountable website, originally entitled, “An Open Letter to UBC: Steven Galloway’s Right to Due Process,” (Nov. 14, 2016). Signed by over eighty CanLit “glitterati,” it repeatedly references the Boyd Report. It perfects the practice of writers prejudging union due process and substituting their esteemed selves for arbitration, while hypocritically demanding their own “due process,” one that tramples contractual agreements, privacy and labour law, employment legislation, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It asks an employer to release the private information of a fired employee and all employees involved in his dismissal. Ten minutes on Google confirms this knee-jerk, un-researched call for “due process” both arrogant and ignorant.

Substituting celebrity for authentic expertise, Mr. Boyden’s Open Letter has been wholly criticized for the impact of its content. It now needs equal examination of its pivotal role in the factual disinformation of the innocence project.

From my years as a union activist, in prior Facebook posts, I have openly speculated the following: That the burst of pro-defense publicity in the fall of 2016, curiously a year after suspension and five months after dismissal, was a well-timed publicity campaign to influence Mr. Galloway’s March grievance. That in the short game, it may have hoped to bring UBC to the table for early settlement over the winter holiday. That in a longer game, the site stands as a pro-innocence publicity hub until the grievance is settled. And that in the longest game, media saturation and narrative control may be a most effective way to prime the public any possible jury for a post-grievance legal suit for defamation or damages.

It can’t be a coincidence. The Open Letter is tactically inaccurate in all the right places, a masterpiece of interpretation masquerading as fact. It actually blames UBC for following the law and Mr. Galloway’s contractual agreement. It asserts that this silence hurts Mr. Galloway, when in truth it legally protects his privacy. It implies that a lack of criminal charges equates to innocence.

It states, “The University has refused to make the findings of Justice Boyd’s report public” conveniently avoiding the fact that to do so would break the law. It quotes Ms. Gold’s interpretation of the alleged Report as fact, asserting: “an independent journalist” has “revealed that all but one of the allegations investigated, including the most serious one, were unsubstantiated.” In other words, while demanding “due process,” the Open Letter endorses the process of jury by journalists who agree with them.

It states, “The University terminated Professor Galloway’s employment without severance and without reference to the original allegations.” This is patently untrue. Steenkamp’s press release clearly states that investigations into the allegations based Mr. Galloway’s dismissal for “a record of misconduct.”

Most ludicrously, the Open Letter claims, “Professor Galloway himself has been denied the right to speak publicly while his case is being grieved.” Mr. Galloway signed a confidentiality agreement with the advice of his UBCFA counsel. All parties signed it. Every grievance in Canada is confidential. Mr. Galloway in not being “denied.” He is being protected by privacy law and his union contract. It appears equally obvious that he has a leaked Report, friends, supporters, signatories, legal surrogates, and a small army of soldier ants, all quite willing to speak for him.

And in a final flipping of the logic pancake, while simultaneously lamenting that UBC has released no evidence for the last year, The Open Letter concludes, “There is growing evidence that the University acted irresponsibly.” The only evidence growing is that which the promulgators of the innocence narrative have seeded and cultivated themselves.

Why did writers board this bandwagon? I imagine reasons vary. Some signed for friendship. Some because they honestly believed “due process” sounded like such a darn good Canadian thing. Some have worked for PEN. Perhaps they saw the Open Letter as just another letter about a persecuted writer, one they hadn’t personally researched, but that someone they trusted asked them to sign. Some signed simply because they were flattered to be asked. An offer to hang out with the cool kids is always hard to resist. Those that signed based on cronyism, based on broken-telephone insider scuttlebutt otherwise known as gossip, they should seriously ask themselves who they believed and why. Did they sign based on the very kind of “whisper campaign” that Ms. Thien’s and the Open Letter claim to reject?

Enter the press release of Mr. Galloway’s private lawyer, Mr. Olthuis, dated November 23, 2016, a short nine days after the Open Letter. It goes without saying that a lawyer’s press release is the ultimate in biased secondary sources. By law, by rules of professional conduct, lawyers must give their clients a vigorous defense. This press release does exactly that. It points the finger at UBC: “the harm flowing from UBC’s conduct has reached such a level that Mr. Galloway has requested us to clarify the following issues on his behalf.” How UBC created escalating harm from a year of silence is not explained.

It quotes and coopts the Boyd Report. How can a lawyer not incur legal jeopardy for quoting a Report that violates his client’s signed confidentiality agreement? I’m not a lawyer; I’m guessing. Perhaps there is no liability in quoting those very same portions already conveniently made public as leaked by Ms. Gold and Ms. Thien: “Ms. Boyd found on a balance of probabilities that Mr. Galloway had not committed sexual assault. Of the other allegations made against Mr. Galloway, Ms. Boyd found that one constituted a violation of UBC policy.” Mr. Olthuis further explains that this one violation was merely an affair.

Enter the contradicting press release of the Main Complainant’s lawyer, Joanna Birenbaum, made the next day, November 24, 2016. This is the only secondary source to counter a full year of pro-innocence spinning. Ms. Birenbaum states the MC, “has stayed silent since Galloway was suspended out of respect for the process and the confidentiality of everyone involved. The so called “secrecy” of the process has protected Galloway, perhaps more than anyone else. MC is committed to preserving the fairness and independence of the March 2017 hearing. Mr. Galloway is instead waging a battle in the press.”

She affirms her client’s complaint was not about “a consensual affair,” but was about “sexual assault and harassment.” She notes that the MC has not seen “the report that Galloway has paraphrased so extensively and for his own benefit in the national media,” because he has appealed UBC’s decision to release the redacted report to her, asserting that her seeing it would violate his privacy.

She concludes, “Through his high-profile contacts, Mr. Galloway is calling for an inquiry into UBC’s handling of the case. There is no need for such a call and there never has been, Mr. Galloway has always had a right to a fair hearing. The upcoming March 2017 labour arbitration will consider both the process and the substance of his termination.” In short, Ms. Birenbaum’s statement debunks every strand of the innocence narrative, disputes it in both form and content.

Why did anyone stay on the innocence bandwagon once they realized they hadn’t heard both sides of the story? Why did signatories instead begin rebroadcasting fake and cherry-picked news through a celebrity megaphone?

As signatory statements got added to, they condemned UBC’s “failed process” and parroted the need for “due process” like a stack of broken records. As self-appointed judge and jury, they proclaimed that Mr. Galloway was unjustly fired for “a breach of trust,” that was “only an affair.” No citing of their sources is included or possible. Like actress anti-vaxxers who haven’t done any medical research, they reference paid defense surrogates and quote the quotes of interpreted quotes of quotes of the alleged Boyd Report as if they were fact.

Some excoriate UBC in terms borderline libelous. Signatory Brad Cran denounces, “the poor process and malignant release of information by UBC…” And uses his expert legal opinion to ridicule the complainants: “This is of course even more troubling now that we know that Galloway was actually only accused of one count of sextual impropriety (which was dismissed by Madam Justice Boyd) and that none of the other allegations were even complaints of sexual assault. In fact, many of the ancillary complainants read like student gripes one might find on…”

Consider another moral high ground seized by signatory Ms. Carmen Aguirre, the UBCaccountable spokesperson. As also published in the Walrus, she writes: ‘living under ultra-right-wing dictatorships and fighting them … Due process has been, and is, one of the most important principles of my life.” She continues with her own legal opinion: “And due process was what Galloway was denied when he was called a rapist.” Firstly, I have never found even one instance where critics called Mr. Galloway “a rapist.” I have read repeated comments from signatories and supporters claiming both they and Mr. Galloway have been called “rapists.” More to point, the only party who could deny Mr. Galloway “due process” is UBC, and they have most certainly never called Mr. Galloway “a rapist.”

Inadvertently, however, Ms. Aguirre has written one of the most accurate of signatory statements when she blames gossip for driving this story. But instead of seeing her fellow signatories as fueling it, she ridiculously suggests that UBC is responsible for all gossip that followed their announcement. In her expert legal opinion, she it is UBC’s fault that Mr. Galloway has been “slandered” and “defamed,” as a “rapist” when he was only “found guilty of having an affair with a married student his age.” She concludes those truly deserving apology are Mr. Galloway and signatories who were likewise called nasty names. By this logic, the CBC is responsible for all gossip about Jian Ghomeshi. Does anyone sincerely believe that a different announcement from UBC could have prevented gossip?

Why do Canada’s elite writers, so stylistically varied in their own work, sound so much alike on Why the same slighted tone, the same mantra of “due process” chanted word for word? It suggests they see the Open Letter by their esteemed selves as beyond criticism, and their statements as epistles that likewise don’t require the first job of any writer: research. Some effectively accuse UBC of slander and/or liable without any clue what those terms mean. Slander is spoken; libel is written. Both have three legal thresholds: someone must make a false statement publicly, they must know it to be false, and it must be made to cause harm. After a close reading of every signatory statement, I cannot find a single citation to any spoken or written statement by UBC that fits these criteria.

How do the signatories know what they know? They don’t. They just believe it.

Enter the push back. The Open Letter generated an immediate social media tsunami. It got attacked for a lack of empathy. For poor research. For erasing and retraumatizing complainants and survivors. For centering a powerful man. For making it harder to report sexual assault. For being on the wrong side of history. For furthering rape culture. Indigenous women asked Joseph Boyden how he could both pen this letter and support the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Some signatories removed their names. Most preferred to lick their perceived wounds, to add their insult to Mr. Galloway’s perceived injury.

Enter the organized push back. A Counter Letter and a letter from Sexual Assault workers jointly earned some 900 signatures. In the face of this criticism, lacking Ms. Thien’s and Ms. Aguirre’s experience fighting foreign fascism, signatories needed a home-grown moral high ground. They clung to the mantra of ‘due process” long after it was repeatedly pointed out to them that the Open Letter was useless on its face, that it ineffectually asked UBC to investigate itself and report to no one. That if they wanted “a public inquiry” they had to draft a proper petition addressed to the government, and if they wanted “an independent inquiry” or “judicial inquiry” they needed to write a new letter to specify this demand.

As the moral authority of “due process” began to fade, some signatories began claiming they were saving Mr. Galloway’s life, as if a celebrity signature were a substitute for medical care. Margaret Atwood apparently thought she was appealing to sympathy for marginalized groups, or perhaps for a “hands off” attitude towards criticizing marginalized groups, when she tweeted that Joseph Boyden had confirmed that Steven Galloway was indigenous and adopted. The notion that Mr. Boyden could confer indigeneity on whomever he liked, did not have the result she anticipated.

In search of even higher ground, signatories revealed their stellar research skills yet again. They began to quote a completely irrelevant section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 11, which states that in the event of criminal charges: “Any person charged with an offence has the right a) to be informed without reasonable delay of the specific defense, and d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty…” Should Mr. Galloway ever be charged with a criminal offense, perhaps this two minutes on Google will be useful to him. Unless he faces criminal charges, it is of no use to him or this discussion.

I understand why writers might board an innocence bandwagon, but why did they stay on it? I can find no possible justification for the way they dug in their heels, even when joined by Men’s Rights Activists who sneered at feminism and rape culture, and eagerly embraced Mr. Galloway as their new falsely-accused poster boy. Known MRA supporters began tweeting and making videos. Their vicious attacks on the complainants warrant legal scrutiny for charges of libel and defamation. Several signatories and innumerable soldier ants and trolls, retweeted MRA posts. When called out for doing so, the signatories deleted them. Some resorted to the very insult and name calling they claimed to repudiate. For whatever reasons — conviction, pride, fear of deserting the privileged pack, arrogance, inertia — few removed their names.

The Innocence Project spun unfettered for a full year before finally being contradicted by another secondary source; the Main Complainant’s legal press release. Having statements from opposing lawyers, permits us to outline the differing legal arguments, but paid press releases do not settle any legal questions. A lawyer’s press release is a professionally biased, one-sided, secondary source, one written in the best professional defense of a client. No one should ever consider such a press release as either an authoritative or unbiased source, let alone treat it as if it were a primary source.

Enter David Mount and his article, again in the Walrus: “Why Steven Galloway May Get his Job Back.” (Dec. 22, 2016). To bring the innocence narrative full circle, he warns, “Those who have given support to the complainants in this case should prepare themselves for the possibility that Galloway will be reinstated”. Mr. Mount identifies himself as a student of Mr. Galloway and as having a JD from the University of Victoria. In fact-checking for this piece, he confirmed that he has not passed the bar exam, never practiced law, and has not read the Boyd Report, except for the redacted portions in the Globe and Mail.

This may explain his many errors of fact, research, and reductive logic.

In the first telling error for someone ostensibly hired for legal expertise, Mr. Mount writes: “The Main Complainant against Galloway and some of the Ancillary Complainants may testify if UBC asks them to do so (and if they choose to do so.)”

Firstly, either party, UBC or Mr. Galloway, can call witnesses. If Mr. Galloway disputes the complainants’ testimonies, his lawyers should call them. And “choice” is not an option. In every province in Canada, either party in an arbitration has the power to compel a witness to testify via subpoena. In The B.C, Arbitration Act under Subpoena to Witness, article 7 (1) reads: “A party to an arbitration may issue a subpoena to a witness” and 8 (1) reads, “An arbitrator may order that a witness at arbitration testifies under oath.” If Mr. Mount does not know these basic facts of Grievances for Dummies, if the Walrus did not fact check it, what else have they gotten wrong?

Just about everything. It must next be said that no one knows, and we should not know, exactly what Mr. Galloway is grieving. All grievances are private and confidential. Although Mr. Mount does not claim to have ever been in a grievance, or for that matter in a union, he confidently states, “an ex-employee who initiates a grievance typically wants to be ‘made whole’ by getting his or her job back.”

This assumption is untrue. Dismissed employees can and do grieve everything under the sun as permitted by provincial labour legislation and their contractual agreements: severance pay, settlement packages, benefits extensions, payment in lieu of notice of dismissal, costs, damages, medical bills, pay for time lost, vacation pay, pension adjustment, for a dismissal to be re-labeled as “early retirement” or “by mutual agreement” – the list is endless. If anything is “typical,” dismissed employees often have little interest in returning to a poisoned workplace and seek either relocation within the bargaining unit, or the best possible conditions of termination.

In further error, Mr. Mount bases his entire article on a misquoting of the UBC press release that leads, in a feat of reductive logic, to Mr. Galloway’s reinstatement. He states: “When describing the reason for firing Galloway, UBC used the phrase “irreparable breach of trust.” No, they didn’t. This is untrue.

To spin it as if were true, he treats defense lawyers like authoritative, unbiased, primary sources: “In fact, according to Galloway’s lawyers, all but one of the accusations brought against Galloway were dismissed by Boyd. The only finding that could be substantiated was a “breach of trust.” This is his second post-truth. Not only did Mr. Galloway’s lawyers never say this, the only person who has ever said this is Mr. Mount.

The alleged Boyd Report has been allegedly quoted in only six secondary sources. None of them have ever said that “the only finding that could be substantiated was a ‘breach of trust.’”

1) UBCFA president Mark MacLean told The Ubyssey (June 22,2016): “We wish to clarify that all but one of the allegations, including the most serious allegation, investigated by the Honourable Mary Ellen Boyd were not substantiated.” He does not state which allegation was not substantiated.

2) Ms. Gold’s only mention of the word breach is to quote Steenkamp correctly, “a record of misconduct that resulted in an irreparable breach of the trust placed in faculty members by the university, its students and the general public.”

3) Ms. Thien quotes the alleged Report at length, never mentioning a “breach” or “a breach of trust.”

4) Ms. Lederman, claiming only to be party to redacted portions shown her by two Ancillary Complainants, never claimed to have seen, and logically would not have seen, any summary conclusions from Justice Boyd. These alleged redacted portions are likewise the only portions Mr. Mount has read.

5) In possession of an official Boyd Report, in his press release, Mr. Olthuis frequently quotes it, but he likewise never mentions either a “breach” or a “breach of trust.” He writes: “Of the other allegations made against Mr. Galloway Ms. Boyd found that one constituted a violation of UBC policy. The sole complaint substantiated was that Mr. Galloway engaged in inappropriate behaviour with a student. When he labels that behaviour “an affair,” that is his interpretation, not a quote from Justice Boyd.

6) Ms. Birenbaum, also in possession of an official Report, states, “Mr. Galloway has issued an apology but he wouldn’t appear to be apologizing for the finding he has admitted was made against him by Ms. Boyd, which was misconduct for ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour with a student’: conduct which is an abuse of trust and his position of power.” Ms. Birenbaum never once uses the phrase “breach of trust.” She states that her client rejects the very word “affair,” considers it an invention of Mr. Galloway’s.

Incorrectly labeling the dismissal “a breach of trust” permits Mr. Mount to then wax a faux lawyersplain as to why Mr. Galloway will get his job back. “Does ‘breach of trust’ constitute sufficient grounds to fire a university professor? In general, the answer is no.” He explains, “The typically accepted form of punishment for a breach of trust is a written reprimand.” He confidently, but irrelevantly,claims ‘a breach of trust’ requires progressive discipline, not dismissal. This is an utterly ludicrous warping of the UBC press release, which never uses the phrase, “breach of trust,” period.

Mr. Mount also asks us to believe that UBC didn’t mean what they did say. In Mr. Mount’s esteemed legal opinion, UBC didn’t mean, “an irreparable breach of the trust placed in faculty members by the university, its students and the general public,” they meant a contractual breach of trust that existed only between Mr. Galloway and UBC. No, UBC’s didn’t use the word breach colloquially, they used it as legal terminology, as a contractual “Breach of Trust” between employer and employee. As he reinterprets: “Contrary to what one might suppose, the ‘trust’ relationship at issue here is not between the professor and the student. The trust, as it is defined by the law, is between the professor and the university.”

Mr. Mount then confidently lists case law for something no one else but him has ever said Mr. Galloway did. Not unsurprisingly, Mr. Mount can find only three precedent cases where a professor was fired for a “breach of trust,” way back in 1996, 1997, and 2007. He warns that all three of these male profs were similarly fired for “consensual romantic relationships,” and that when they grieved dismissal, all three were reinstated. He concludes: The case law in Canada would appear to be very clear on this point: Firing a professor for ‘breach of trust,’ constitutes an excessive form of punishment. If the arbitrator in the Galloway grievance follows this established principle, he or she will likely reinstate him…”

In further reinforcement of the innocence narrative, he warns: “The facts that have been disclosed thus far suggest that UBC clearly overstepped. … And the arbitrator may argue that the recklessness of UBC—which effectively convicted Galloway through its public statements—has played a large part in the manner by which the public perceived (or, many might argue, misperceived) Galloway’s actions.”

What “reckless public statements”? He does not quote or document a single one. Perhaps the Walrus didn’t feel the need to ask if any existed or not.

In a potentially libelous spin, Mr. Mount goes further, implying that since UBC “overstepped” the Boyd Report, it now may be covering its behind by fabricating “new” disclosure: “What are these new allegations? Is there a supplemental report about them? If there was any substance to them why wasn’t Boyd re-engaged to investigate them? Or was UBC so dissatisfied with Boyd’s conclusions that university administrators decided to forego any new investigation of untested allegations?”

Despite legal training, Mr. Mount chooses to mock the legal requirement of silence. As almost-a-lawyer Mr. Mount knows full well, the Boyd Report is a summary opinion, not the larger full body of disclosure. It has always been the job of arbitration to weigh all primary and secondary disclosure. And, as he equally knows, UBC was under no obligation to hire anyone once, let alone twice. And even if they did, UBC still could not disclose any part of either report.

Mr. Mount does his best to end with legal-sounding gravitas, “it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that UBC’s treatment of Galloway was motivated not by the the legally cognizable facts of this case, but as a post facto reaction to the bad press that the university received for its mishandling of past sexual assaults on campus. Such an impulse is perhaps understandable from a public-relations point of view. But employment law is not governed by the publicity needs of the employer.”

Fortunately, employment law and union grievance procedures are likewise not governed by an Innocence Project, or by the publicity needs of someone fired for “a record of misconduct,” who has everything to gain from the disinformation that they were “only” fired for “a breach of trust” that was “only” a “consensual affair,” that “only” requires a slap on the wrist before “full reinstatement.”

Two days after his Walrus article, on Dec. 28, 2016, in borderline libelous innocence spinning, Mr. Mount suggests that UBC was out to get Mr. Galloway all along. As @fakedavidmount he tweeted, “Why did UBC use “breach of trust for grounds for firing Steven Galloway? Answer: UBC couldn’t find any other reasons”

In short, Mr. Mount’s comments reflect Innocence Project toadyism at its finest. Who does it serve? It potentially frightens anyone who may be called to testify, silences them out of fear that Mr. Galloway may be returning to UBC as their Chair. Is it either authoritative or unbiased journalism? Three days after his article, Mr. Mount signed the UBCaccountable Open Letter and began pursuing a book deal.

On social media, sheep and signatories went even further to discredit UBC. On December 24, 2016, signatory Brad Cran tweeted. “students were gathered by UBC and converted into complainants…” I copied his tweet to mine and replied: “UBC “CONVERTED” them into complainants? This libels them both.” And then I tweeted, “#ubcaccountable Are you seriously accusing UBC & complainants of conspiracy, fraud, and evidence tampering, to frame SG?” I expected and got no reply.

And I accept the irony. My entire professional life has spent been on the other side of the fence, defending teachers against the misguided, harmful, and yes, sometimes malicious acts of administrations, board executives, and provincial governments. Having repeatedly served as career-ending Picket Captain and lost some six months’ wages in multiple strikes, I’ve more than earned the right to question educational institutions. But in this case, to the critique and chagrin of my union colleagues, I am for the first time in my life asking a different question.

Who needs an Innocence Project? Who lets one happen in their name?

If I was a union member secure in my professional conduct, I certainly wouldn’t let my friends use their names and reputations, let them look like fools for signing an un-researched, juvenile call for “due process,” or risk increasing legal liabilities on an increasingly libelous website, all to fight my battles for me. It wouldn’t be necessary and I wouldn’t permit it. I’d trust my union and private counsel to defend me, expect an arbitrator to rule in my favour, and know that I could appeal and sue if they did not. I would be so profoundly embarrassed by the circus that is UBCaccountable, I would have long ago begged them to stop. Unless … Please finish that sentence as you see fit.

After a close reading of secondary sources, to paraphrase an alleged quote from the alleged Boyd Report, “based on a preponderance of secondary source evidence,” I can find nothing that suggests UBC’s process was either “flawed” or “mishandled,” either unfair or any kind of rush to judgement. In fact, UBC’s extended review process checks every contractual box. Universities cannot be held responsible for public gossip and rumour that follows a dismissal, or for a scandal-loving media and social media who fanned the gossiping fires. If any statement by UBC injurious to Mr. Galloway existed, it would be a secondary source available on line. There is no such secondary source. There is nothing but gossip and rumour, to say that UBC ever defamed, slandered, or libeled Mr. Galloway.

We must separate action from aftermath. Even if we bought into every contention of the innocence project: that UBC process was “flawed” from the start, that it deliberately and callously damaged Mr. Galloway’s reputation, that it “overstepped” the Boyd Report, that it is culpable for every word of gossip since, and that critics of signatories are nothing but “envious” “witch hunters,” so what? That’s all the stuff of aftermath. None of it affects the primary evidence. Mr. Galloway could still be guilty of a dismissible action, of a “record of misconduct,” as documented in the full disclosure of primary sources. That full disclosure, and only full disclosure, can tell the full story.

Until arbitration, I stand by my previous posts defending union due process. Given the extensive process of review, no doubt meticulously vetted by UBC’s lawyers, I remain convinced that Mr. Galloway is not likely to be rehired. Having said that, I fully admit that I don’t know how an arbitrator who reads all primary disclosure may rule. None of us do. But I hear the union speak. When a union member is dismissed without severance or settlement package, that telegraphs how certain the employer and their lawyers feel about his dismissal: as fully justified.

I believe that Mr. Galloway may emerge from his grievance with little or nothing. I believe the concerted PR push for early settlement suggests that his defense team fears likewise. I doubt Mr. Galloway will appeal the arbitrator’s decision. I think his legal team is primed and ready to jump right into a lawsuit for defamation, damages, destruction of personal and professional reputation, loss of lifetime income, pain and suffering, and anything else they can legally add to th fire.

I further speculate that the recent flip-flop decision to remove then rehire Mr. Furlong as a UBC speaker, may be a direct result of UBC lawyers looking ahead, and insisting that UBC must not risk handing Mr. Galloway’s lawyers what they will be delighted to call, “an irresponsible and reputation-damaging pattern of acting on unproven rumour, a pattern of premature and biased judgement against men accused of, but never convicted of, sexual improprieties.”

And I lastly speculate that this lawsuit has been the real goal all along.

Consider “A Review of Damage Awards in Defamation, by B.C. lawyer David A. Gooderham of Alexander Holburn Beaudin and Lang, published on, (Oct. 3, 2012). He notes that large damage suits are relatively rare in B.C. Accordingly, winning a high-profile, high settlement, celebrity defamation case would be quite a feather in any lawyer’s cap.

Reviewing applicable case law, Mr. Gooderham lists three factors as producing the highest awards in B.C.: 1) “the content of the defamatory words;” 2) “Mass media dissemination (and distribution by Internet) is a key factor that may—and, in many cases, will—escalate damages;” 3) “the conduct and motives of the defendant” or possibly in this case, the defendants. Despite the lack of “defamatory words,” UBCaccountable supporters have done a fine job making the public believe that both UBC’S press release and its silence were defamatory. They’ve done a stupendous job ensuring mass media and social media coverage, and endlessly condemned the “conduct and motives” of both UBC and the complainants. In what possible world could all of this be a coincidence?

As I ponder such a lawsuit, this is my biggest fear: Will the complainants only be called as witness, or will Mr. Galloway’s lawyers add them as correspondents, and jointly sue both UBC and the complainants? UBCaccountable supporters on social media have laid the groundwork, have often suggested that the complainants colluded with each other and with UBC to bring Mr. Galloway down. In search of a larger award, Mr. Galloway’s lawyers should add the complainants as correspondents. It permits them to argue against their joint conduct and motives.

This kind of courtroom slaughter is a most-sobering, possible next chapter in this story. It could drag on for years. UBC, Mr. Galloway, and their expensive high-profile legal teams, could all be prepared to throw the complainants under the liability bus. The transcript will be public record.

So, I’m asking you, ubcaccountable signatories, is a soul-destroying, court-room trashing of complainants really what you signed up for? Does it concern you that without your knowledge or approval, that is what your names and reputations may have been destined to suppost all along?

Just as I have speculated that the Innocence Project may have been strategically timed to influence Mr. Galloway’s grievance and/or future legal proceedings, which explains the hire beyond UBCFA counsel of a lawyer of Mr. Olthius’ stellar caliber, I equally wonder if other professional advice is at work here. Given the use of traditional PR tactics in reputation management campaigns–muddy the facts, control the narrative, hand-pick the messengers, refine the message, seize a moral high-ground, humanize the client, point the finger elsewhere–it is more than reasonable to ask if public relations professionals have been co-operating with the defense, and steering the innocence spin all along.

Have we all been had? As a publicity stunt, the Open Letter is the exact opposite of poorly written, and the uproar exactly what was hoped for. It would be a supremely clever defense long game to get a boatload of celebrities to float your innocence narrative for you, to champion a moral “due process” high ground they honestly believed in, but didn’t understand, to have them shout for months that the lack of “due process” proves your client has been railroaded. That he’s “the real victim.” That he should be exonerated, if not compensated and/or rehired. And the icing on that cake? To get them to do so in an Open Letter that you know will never achieve the “due process” it calls for, thusly ensuring that your client will never have to be scrutinized in an inquiry you can claim to support, but know he will never have to face. All entirely legal. All utterly brilliant.

So, in my own defence of “due process,” I’ve taken sides. I freely admit that taking sides in this story is an act of faith, not of evidence. I make that choice when I say I believe the complainants. I believe them for many reasons: Because the best UBCFA contractual protections for retaining Mr. Galloway have already failed under legal and employer review. Because statistics show complainants rarely lie about sexual assault. Because so many first-person on-line accounts repeatedly describe a poisoned teaching and working atmosphere. Because despite vicious attacks on social media for the last eighteen months, the complainants have maintained the courage of their convictions. And, most importantly, because disbelieving women is the very first phallic thrust of rape culture.

Now that I’ve followed a story about a writer I have never met for several months and some 20,000 words—this piece alone is 10,300 words and I thank you for staying with it—I’d like to explain my motivations. Besides a deep belief in union due process, researched opinion, and ethical political action, I honestly believe that this tale also contains a truly important lesson about diversity in CanLit.

As a disabled writer, I’ve listened all my life to established CanLit writers claim they are entitled to write about marginalized groups to which they do not belong because they will use two things: empathy and good research. The elite writers of the Open Letter made no use of either, even when called out on both, even when the lack of both caused harm. Their behaviour strips off their false veneer. It reveals their real agenda: We will defend writers like ourselves at all costs.

To the question, “How do you know what you know?” they answer like a basket of arrogant, self-serving deplorables: “I got attacked too! And I am much too important to be accountble to the lowly likes of you.” To me, they will forever beproof of the non-negotiable need for the authentic own voices of all marginalized groups. Any able-bodied writer who ever claims to speak for me, must know that thanks to the Open Letter, I will forever see them as a hypocrite and a fraud.

And I offer some other big picture questions for your collective consideration. I begin with one raised by writer Stan Persky, the only signatory to engage my Facebook posts with respectful debate: Does the spinning of an innocence narrative require a conscious conspiracy?

Absolutely not. In fact, it probably works best when there isn’t one, when supporters of it believe they are acting out of their own combined personal beliefs: friendship, personal experience, a moral high ground, a defense of apple-pie “due process,” and a distrust of university process. The best proselytizer of an innocence narrative is one who truly believes they are simply exercising individual democratic free expression. Followers can carry a party line without being party to, or even aware of, plans made above them. An innocence project isn’t a one-member-one-vote equal information enterprise. I’ve never claimed a conscious conspiracy; I have worried all along about manipulation and usury. I think most signatories and supporters drank the Kool-Aid honestly, without any idea that it had created its own thirst. I imagine very few hands are needed to push open the envelope, add water, and stir.

Mr. Persky also raised a second thoughtful question: Why are potential allies attacking each other? As he so fairly points out, many of the signatories have feminist experience, and should be allies against sexual harassment and assault. I agree, they should. Once they drop a harmful, ineffectual, dubiously-conceived tactic, I welcome their voice and their work.

Anyone with celebrity clout must use it wisely. Signing a letter is no substitute for informed activism. The long hard work of listening and learning must continue. There is every reason to educate ourselves, to seek out the opinions of survivors and those who have been doing this work for years. There is excellent reason to support the much-needed government-mandated review of sexual assault policy in all Canadian universities. There is no reason to substitute celebrity for that work or expertise.

And I agree again with Mr. Persky, our positions are not mutually exclusive. Supporters and critics may face off from a seemingly un-crossable distance, but I suggest the mind-shattering possibility that both versions of the story might overlap. The “record of misconduct,” the “one” allegation Justice Boyd allegedly supported, could very well be the same thing: the “relationship” that Mr. Galloway calls “a consensual affair” and that the MC calls “sexual harassment and abuse.”

We don’t know. We do know that a person can have honest concerns about the way UBC handled this matter, and on-going concerns about how universities on both sides of our borders have handled sexual harassment and assault. Surely, we can challenge university policies and procedures without causing further harm to staff, students, complainants and survivors?

We can hold universities accountable for safety and well-being without spinning innocence narratives for powerful men who already have expert union and legal counsel. If we really believe there should be a public or independent inquiry into UBC, we can respect that hard-won democratic right by petitioning for one properly. If we believe in research, evidence, empathy, fair treatment for all, and due process, we can take our names off a PR site that has none. We can join those voices asking for the site to come down. Simply put, there is no good reason for making women more afraid.

The only reasonable, responsible, educated, adult thing to do is to stop spinning fake and cherry-picked news, and let union due process proceed. An arbitrator is legally charged with a close reading of all primary and secondary documentation. Their deliberations, as they should be, will be private. But their ruling will the only fully-informed decision in this entire story.

“A lie can race around the world while the truth is still tying up its shoelaces.” That’s one of my favorite aphorisms from the venerable Professor Simpson. When I researched it for this essay, I discovered that, as attributed to Charles Spurgeon, I’ve been misquoting it for forty years. It should read, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

It’s a critical difference. This single narrative Innocence Project has not “raced around the world;” it has only gone half way around it. So please, ask yourselves, “How do I know what I know?”

Will it travel any further? Up to you.

From → Uncategorized

  1. OMG! Thank you Carl(a) Bernstein. Where have you been hiding!

    • Thank you! Mr. B. has long been one of my heroes, so I truly appreciate your compliment.

  2. Excellent. Ex-reporter dismissed for misconduct (I signed a political petition contrary to company policy) but no one ever heard either side of the story – not even after the hearing which awarded me a year’s salary for unfair dismissal. I could have returned to my old post but wanted no past of a “poisoned workplace”.
    Quite obviously breaching confidentiality agreements can get you in legal hot water at least as serious as the original “a history of misconduct”. Let’s push to see that happen.

  3. Lee Lakeman permalink

    Thanks for this careful thoughtful and challenging examination of what we know so far.

  4. Immense gratitude for your research and lucid presentation. It will be so helpful to many of us in future conversations.

  5. Lori permalink

    “As recapped in The Ubyssey, (June 22, 2016), on November 18, 2016, Mr. Galloway was suspended with pay from his position…” – do you mean November 18, 2015?

  6. Gabriel permalink

    Wow. Thanks so much for this brilliant, exhaustively researched break down. You write so clearly and engagingly about everything from the details of grievance procedures to the larger social implications of this kind of manipulation of narrative, and your empathy and concern comes across so powerfully. I am not sure how you did all that, went through this whole complex story, and provided a quick master class about what ethical, sourced reporting looks like in one piece, but I am so glad that you are here and doing this work.

  7. This is brilliant. Thank you for being such a powerful voice of reason.

  8. I wanted to commend you on this piece. As a journalist, I know this will have taken many hours to work out. Salute!

  9. Meah Martin permalink

    Thank you. Finally a reasoned analysis of the events. Who belongs to Can Lit? What are the admission requirements? Is it like a co-op board in New York? Could someone give me a list of who they think are in Can Lit? I always believed the purpose of the letter was to give Galloway and opportunity to speak publically to somethiing he was not required to keep confidential. Boyden was part of the campaign and I believe both of them overestimated their own value because of all the adoring writers and fans. When people make heroes out of others they diminish themselves. Margaret Atwood’s refusal to at least review why she signed was puzzling and Boyden’s refusal to take the letter down even though he was asked revealed to me at least that there was another agenda at work here. I do think we ought to start a Can-West. Thanks again.

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