Academic Integrity Legal Fund

$905 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 7 people in 11 days
"University of Saskatchewan refuses to lift heavy redactions on Right to Know symposium proceedings"

Goal: To fund the legal costs of forcing the University of Saskatchewan's senior administration to comply with the recommendations of Saskatchewan's Information and Privacy Commissioner and the public's right to know.

Notice of Appeal against the University of Saskatchewan was filed on Thursday August 2nd, 2018 at the Court of Queen’s Bench. It asks the Court to enforce recent recommendations by Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner  that the University lift most of its redactions in the transcript of proceedings of a closed symposium involving university and agriculture industry representatives, held on campus in December 2015.

The symposium, entitled Research Management and the Right to Know (referring to the US organization “Right to Know,” which has brought to light several instances of undue influence on research by industry partners ) was by invitation only. The 20 attendees included members of the University of Saskatchewan administration, faculty from this and other universities, research funders, communications personnel and representatives from industry.

Emails previously obtained through FOI indicate that U of S Professor Peter Phillips, assisted by Monsanto Canada’s “social sciences lead” Camille Ryan, organized the symposium in order to develop strategies for managing the intense media scrutiny of collaborations between university researchers and the agricultural chemical industry. A critical news report about Phillips’ associations with Monsanto had appeared in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix just weeks before, and it had both Phillips and Ryan very concerned.

An Access to Information request to the University in August 2017 asked for a copy of the Symposium’s proceedings. After demanding $483 for costs involved the University finally provided a 42-page transcript, with 85% of its contents blacked out and almost all of the discussion at the meeting redacted.

Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner was requested to review the University’s actions.  On June 5, 2018 the Commissioner delivered his Determination that the University had not applied the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act appropriately and recommending that most of the redactions be lifted. The University has completely refused to comply, which has impelled the commencement of legal proceedings. Saskatchewan’s Freedom of Information legislation dictates that the responsibility of enforcing the Commissioner’s recommendations falls with the applicant.

Private donations – the vast majority of them substantial personal contributions from academics and other concerned Saskatchewan residents  – have enabled legal proceedings to be commenced and expert Counsel to be retained.  We anticipate the University will continue to resist disclosure, but are determined to see the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s recommendations complied with. Your donation will guarantee that proceedings can be carried through appeals in provincial courts, and if necessary to the national level.  Should justice prevail without need for such appeal, then your donations will be used to reimburse a portion of the substantial financial outlays by the private donors who made this action possible.  We will do our best to keep donors informed.
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$905 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 7 people in 11 days
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