Academic Integrity Legal Fund

$1,650 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 4 months
Why the Secrecy??

The  University of Saskatchewan refuses to remove redactions from transcript of a closed symposium to manage media scrutiny of collaborations between U of S and Industry, despite the recommendations of Saskatchewan's Freedom of Information Commissioner.

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 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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After an exasperating delay of over three months since this law suit was first launched in Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, we are pleased to advise that the log jam in wrangling over legal procedure can be put behind us. As of November 21 an order was issued by Court, with a process agreed by consent between legal counsel for both appellant (D’Arcy Hande) and respondent (University of Saskatchewan). The University will provide the Court under seal within 30 days the unredacted proceedings of the University’s Symposium on “Research Management and the Right to Know,” held in December 2015. Also within 30 days, legal counsel on both sides will provide their submissions to Court under seal, arguing their respective cases as to why the approximately 85% of the transcript of proceedings should, or should not, be opened to public scrutiny.
You will recall that Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner had recommended in June that most of the redactions imposed over the transcript by the University of Saskatchewan be lifted. However, the University refused to accept the Commissioner’s recommendations, and a handful of private individuals were forced in effect to launch a formal appeal asking the Court to consider the matter, more or less mirroring the review process already undertaken very competently by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

So we expect that by year’s end the transcript in question will be under the review of a Court of Queen’s Bench judge. We have no control over just how long it will actually take for that review to be completed and a decision handed down. We can only hope the process is not protracted and that the judgement comes down in our favour.
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$1,650 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 4 months
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