When I began my legal actions against the University of Winnipeg, there were three stages in a Summary Judgment motion. First you argued it before a Master in chambers, as they call it. The losing party can then appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench, where it is heard by a Justice. There is one more level of appeal, to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, where it is heard by a panel of three Justices. (Technically, if you lose in the Court of Appeal, you can apply for leave to argue your case before the Supreme Court of Canada, but leave is rarely granted.)
Since then, they’ve changed the rules so that the Master’s level is bypassed: now there are only two levels in Manitoba. But I was still operating under the old rules. I’d lost before the Master, so I appealed to the Queen’s Bench. My case was heard by Justice Martin in April of 2014.
I knew I was in trouble when the judge opened up the hearing by telling me that he had read my material, and he could still find no evidence of malice…which was the critical element in my claims. Could he not see malice dripping from every line of Mr. Tram’s diary, I asked? The Judge would later ridicule me for this line in his written decision …as though that was all the evidence I had. But at the time, I still believed I could convince him by walking him through the details. I was wrong.
I started by comparing Mr. Tram’s diary with my own account of what happened in class. Mr. Tram lambastes me for starting the class talking about the Law of Pythagoras, when I was supposed to be teaching static electricity. He then complains that I went on to talk about things that aren’t part of the course, like magnetism, and things that should be covered three weeks later. I showed the judge my own notes of the first class…how it was a 9:00 am class for which Mr. Tram’s student weren’t expected to show up half an hour late. There were two students who had actually showed up on time. Mr. Tram told me I should wait for more people to arrive. I though there was no reason to waste the time of the students who had bothered to come, so I drew a 3-4-5 triangle on the board and asked them if they knew what this was.
When the students started showing up, I got started on static electricity. I asked the class if anyone could tell us what static electricity was. Someone said “a light bulb?”. I drew a light bulb on the board and said “this is called current electricity and we’ll be talking about this three weeks from now”. That’s what Mr. Tram reported me for in his diary..that I was talkiing about math and things that belong three weeks down the road. I said his reports were “dripping with malice”. The Judge pooh-poohed my claim.
But you won’t find any of these details in Judge Martin’s written decision. The Schoolteachers files a number of affidavits to support their position, none of which included any documentation or independent corroboration. If you want to know what they said about me, you can just read Martin’s written decision. Because every single allegation or slur against me which they raised in those affidavits is included in his findings.
But he does not see fit to mention one single point which I raised as evidence to support my allegations of malice. Not one. Other than my claim that Tram’s diary was “dripping with malice”…a point the Judge quotes me on only to ridicule me.
Did I have no evidence? You’re damn right I had evidence, and it didn’t depend on my own testimony. It was taken from the Schoolteacher’s affidavits, from the affidavits of their co-defendants (the professors), and from the written record:
1. Principal Skull accused me of grabbing a student by the shoulder. I showed that in Mr. Tram’s notes, he reported merely that I “tapped” a student on the shoulder.
2. Principal Skull accused me of refusing to submit lesson plans. The Schoolteachers had no documentation to prove they had ever even asked me for lesson plans. I showed instructions from my Faculty Supervisor stating that no lesson plans were due before Nov. 23rd. I was kicked out of the practicum on Nov. 21st.
3. On the Friday before the Monday when I was kicked out, the Vice Principal had a phone conversation with Deb Woloshyn, the University’s director of student teaching. Woloshyn made notes of the conversation. She recorded that the Vice Principal had concerns about my mental health and erratic behavior. There was supposedly a bizaree incident with a homeless man, and a time when I left the building to go for coffee. But there was nothing about lesson plans or assaulting students. If these were off the radar on Friday, how did they become critical on Monday? Because none of the incidents cited by Vice Principal Cox on Friday were included in the reasons for my expulsion given by Principal Skull on Monday.
4. An “at-risk student teacher” is guaranteed “due process” including meetings, written contracts, feedback, etc….all of which I was denied when Deb Woloshyn phoned emailed Principal Skull on Monday afternoon and formally requested the Principal to use her special authority to bypass the Due Process and use here emergency powers to demand my expedited removal. Neither the Schoolteachers nor the Professors denied these events (they email correspondence was included in the Professor’s own affidavits) nor did they offer any reasons why my due process rights should be bypassed.
I told the judge that all of the above constituted ample evidence of both malice and conspiracy. That was my case, and I made it damn clearly, both in my written submission and in my oral presentation. What did the Judge have to say about that?
Absolutely nothing! There is nothing in his written decision to suggest that I had any evidence whatsoever, beyond my incoherent protestations that Tram’s diary was “dripping with malice”. The Judge alludes only indirectly to my evidence, saying that “whatever discrepancies may be inherent to Mr. Tram’s or Ms. Skull’s evidence, or between their evidence and that of Mr. Green or others, “such discrepancies are at once minor and understandable”.
That’s it. "Minor and understandable".
At the start of the hearing, the Judge had told me he was skeptical of my claims of malice. He even offered to adjourn the hearing so I could confer with Mr. Mackwood, and possibly agree to drop my claim before it got too late. I turned him down. I said I wanted to present my evidence. The judge said OK; he was going to listen, and he wanted me to leave at the end of the day at least knowing that I had been heard. Fair enough.
The Judge cheated me. Yes, he heard me all right. But by omitting every word of my argument from his written decision, and including every claim made by the Schoolteachers, no matter how trivial…he did his best to make sure that even if he heard my arguments, no one else would.