Shortly after noon on Tuesday, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum fielded questions from McGill community members in an unprecedented webcast that was moderated by McGill Psychology Professor Daniel Levitin. Questions were posted on a blog prior to the webcast. Phone lines were also open for people to call in with questions.
The events of November 10 were discussed repeatedly. When questioned about a potential conflict of interest by naming a McGill professor, Dean of Law Daniel Jutras, to conduct the investigation into the events, Munroe-Blum said that Jutras is known for his integrity and that having “a senior member of the community do it versus someone from outside would serve the best interests of the University.”
“At the end of the day, the proof will be in the quality of the report and I expect that it will be a very high quality report that will stand on its own,” she continued.
In response to concerns that the investigation will not assign blame, Munroe-Blum said, “People need to feel that they can bring information forward free of concern that they will then get caught up in a legal or disciplinary process.”
Munroe-Blum gave a summary of the contents of her recent meeting with Marc Parent, chief of the Montreal police concerning the police presence on November 10. She said the presence of riot police on campus “was unacceptable from the point of view from our community.” She added that Parent “undertook to look into it more, and we will meet again subsequently.”
The McGill non-academic workers’ strike was also discussed. When asked why students were not consulted with regards to the injunctions obtained by the University to restrict the union’s picketing activities, Munroe-Blum said, “A strike is not an academic consultative process, it’s a legally defined context and it’s not one that you consult in this way.”
McGill Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa announced last night that the University had reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract with MUNACA. The union is expected to present the new agreement to its membership for ratification in the coming days, stated Di Grappa’s announcement.