Frequently Asked Questions

In August 2020, Dr. Valentina Azarova was in advanced negotiations with the University of Toronto about becoming Director of the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the Faculty of Law. On September 4, the Dean of Law was advised that a prominent alumnus objected to the hire based on Dr. Azarova’s scholarship on Israel/Palestine. On September 6, the Dean decided to terminate the hire. Former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell was asked, inter alia, to review these events to provide “a comprehensive factual narrative of events pertaining to the search committee process and the basis for the decision to discontinue the candidacy.” Cromwell says “the inference of improper influence is not one that I would draw.” 

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) began censure proceedings in November 2020. On April 22, 2021, after considering the Cromwell Report and submissions from many sources (including the University and the Law Faculty administrations), it imposed censure on the University of Toronto over its decision to terminate the candidacy of Dr. Azarova for the Directorship of the IHRP. 

This situation is complex. The Cromwell Report and the CAUT’s response raise many issues of academic freedom and collegial governance crucial to all members of the University. Here are brief answers to some common questions. However, colleagues should read the key documents for themselves, collected at the end of the FAQs.

President Gertler says Mr. Cromwell conducted “an independent and impartial review” (Response, March 29, 2021). Why doesn’t that settle the issue?

President Gertler says Mr. Cromwell is a highly respected former Supreme Court of Canada judge whose credentials are unimpeachable. How can we question his report?

President Gertler asserts Mr. Cromwell was the only person who saw all the documents and heard from all the people involved. Shouldn’t we defer to his conclusions since we don’t have the same access to the evidence? 

President Gertler asserts Mr. Cromwell provided a “very thorough … and detailed report, which has fully addressed the terms of reference” (Response, March 29, 2021). Why doesn’t that settle the issue? 

What did Cromwell say about confidentiality and privacy and why is it a problem?

What does Mr. Cromwell say about collegial governance and why is it a problem?

What were the reasons that the University relied on to terminate the hiring of Dr. Azarova?

Why does CAUT consider the termination of Dr. Azarova’s hiring to be a breach of academic freedom?

Does it make a difference that the IHRP Director is not an academic position? 

If academic freedom did not apply, does that suggest that it is OK for donors to influence the hiring of a candidate for the Director of the IHRP? 

Is a view that the former Dean of Law was influenced by external pressure the same as calling him a liar?

What’s wrong with Mr. Cromwell’s conclusions about the reasons for terminating the job offer?

Was collegial governance undermined in the IHRP hiring process? 

Is CAUT exceeding its mandate by imposing a censure on U of T?

What is the role of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) in the dispute in the Law School? 

What is the relevance of Dr. Azarova’s research on Israel/Palestine?

How has the issue of antisemitism entered the hiring process?

Mr. Cromwell gave a keynote address at a CIJA conference in the middle of conducting his review (in February 2021).  Why is this a problem?

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):  

Q: President Gertler says Mr. Cromwell conducted “an independent and impartial review” (Response, March 29, 2021). Why doesn’t that settle the issue?

A: Mr. Cromwell was chosen by the university and given a mandate without consultation with any of those expressing concern about the IHRP hiring process. A tripartite structure with representatives of the University, the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) or CAUT, and a neutral chair would have been an independent and impartial review. It was suggested. The University instead chose to retain control over the entire process.

Q: President Gertler says Mr. Cromwell is a highly respected former Supreme Court of Canada judge whose credentials are unimpeachable. How can we question his report? 

A: The report must be read and assessed on its merits, not defended by an appeal to authority. It does not warrant deference on account of the reputation or stature of the author. Reading a text for the quality of its analysis is exactly what all university faculty do professionally. In reading the report, we are necessarily limited to the evidence Mr. Cromwell presents in the report – the documents he cites and the statements he attributes to participants. However, he is not in a privileged position when it comes to drawing inferences or conclusions from that evidence, or in making recommendations.  

Q: President Gertler asserts Mr. Cromwell was the only person who saw all the documents and heard from all the people involved. Shouldn’t we defer to his conclusions since we don’t have the same access to the evidence?  

A: No. Mr. Cromwell bases his conclusions and recommendations entirely on the evidence disclosed in the report. Critical analyses of Cromwell’s report have proceeded from the evidence provided in the Report, and CAUT did the same. These maintain that the facts that Cromwell reports do not support the conclusions reached, or the recommendations proposed. We should all decide for ourselves.  

In any case, the fact that only Mr. Cromwell saw all the documents and heard all the evidence is a weakness, not a strength of the review. We question courts if their records are not open; we question the reliability of research based on data that is not shared. Same here. Indeed, the reason for non-disclosure of evidence was never explained, and so we have no way of knowing what was left out of the report or why. 

Q: President Gertler asserts Mr. Cromwell provided a “very thorough … and detailed report, which has fully addressed the terms of reference” (Response, March 29, 2021). Why doesn’t that settle the issue? 

A: The report is detailed, but it fails fundamentally to address its key term of reference. Rather than “determining the basis for the decision to terminate the hiring process”, Mr. Cromwell sets out what the Dean told him was the basis for terminating the process.  These are not the same thing. Mr. Cromwell did not explain why the Dean’s version of events is more probable or believable than the conflicting accounts provided by others.  He also did not consider whether the Dean might have been influenced by the interference of the donor even though he did not think he was.

CAUT decided, given the information in the Cromwell report, to make its own assessment about the overall credibility of the various accounts. The members of CAUT Council determined what was most likely the basis for the decision to terminate the process. It decided that the Dean was probably influenced by external interference.

Q: What did Cromwell say about confidentiality and privacy and why is it a problem?

A: This question is thoroughly addressed in the memo by Prof. Ariel Katz (see “Resources” below). Here is a short answer. Cromwell identified and equated two distinct types of confidentiality and privacy breaches. The first involved breaches that occurred during the hiring process to individuals and organization who sought to thwart Dr. Azarova’s appointment. These breaches included disclosure of Dr. Azarova’s candidacy by an unnamed faculty within University of Toronto to unnamed outside actors who disclosed Dr. Azarova’s candidacy to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), who then solicited Justice Spiro to intervene, as well as the disclosure of Dr. Azarova’s identity and the status of the appointment process by the Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Law to the advancement officers who inquired on behalf of Justice Spiro.

The second was the disclosure of concerns about irregularities in the process by members of the IHRP Director selection committee after the Dean decided to terminate the hiring process. One member disclosed first-hand knowledge to members of the faculty advisory committee, former directors and directors of the IHRP alumni committee in order to seek guidance. That member also disclosed first-hand knowledge regarding donor intervention when asked for information by a handful of Law faculty who had heard about the incident through other sources. After the controversy erupted in the media, the other member disclosed specific information on social media that contradicted public statements by University administration about whether an offer had been made to Dr. Azarova.

Mr. Cromwell erroneously treats both types of disclosure as problematic. The first set of disclosures infringed the privacy of Dr. Azarova because they disclosed her personal information (her identity and the fact that she was a candidate) to individuals and organizations who were not authorized to receive it, and they also breached the confidentiality of the hiring process for purposes of derailing it.

The second disclosure occurred after the Dean decided to terminate the hire of Dr. Azarova and, in the social media case, after the entire hiring process was halted. These did not infringe Dr. Azarova’s privacy because she had consented to those disclosures. They did not constitute breach of confidentiality because they occurred after confidentiality had already been breached and because they addressed the original and damaging breaches of confidentiality entailed by the donor’s intervention that led to the termination of the offer. While Mr. Cromwell regards both types of disclosure as improper, the law does not. As a matter of law, the first set of disclosure was clearly improper while the second was clearly proper.

Mr. Cromwell recommends that the University formulate and disseminate policies and guidelines around confidentiality, which seems like a good idea in principle. However, he also recommends that members of selection committees be required to sign undertakings of confidentiality and under no circumstances may they share details of a recruitment process with anyone not directly involved (except for the purposes of checking references or obtaining necessary legal advice).

This recommendation is overbroad and fails to distinguish between justified and unjustified disclosure. It would preclude members of an appointments committee from ever raising concerns about a hiring process, and thereby deter accountability. As Ariel Katz points out: “Implementing this recommendation will not only be against the public interest, but it will also render hollow the University Statement on Freedom of Speech, which includes the right to criticize the University. How can one criticize the University without disclosing the details that underly the criticism?”

The President has embraced all the recommendations contained in Mr. Cromwell’s Report.

Q: What does Mr. Cromwell say about collegial governance and why is it a problem?

A: Mr. Cromwell’s mandate from the University included the following:

“Whether existing University policies and procedures were followed in this search, including those relating to academic freedom, if applicable, and the obligation to preserve confidentiality throughout a search process.”

One of the most important University policies is the Statement of Institutional Purpose (“SIP”). The SIP states that the University is committed to four principles. One of these is “collegial governance”. Thus, Mr. Cromwell’s mandate extended to a determination of whether principles of collegial governance were violated in the termination of the Azarova hiring. Despite this, for reasons unknown, Mr. Cromwell states in his report that collegial governance “is a broad and important subject that is far beyond my Terms of Reference”.

Not only was collegial governance at the heart of his mandate, but concerns about the collegiality of the Dean’s decision to terminate the Azarova hire loom large. From the empanelling of the selection committee in the spring of 2020, through to early September of 2020, the work of searching for a new Director for the IHRP was entirely in the hands of the selection committee and the Assistant Dean. They spent many months diligently searching for a new Director, vetting 149 applications and conducting 9 candidate first interviews, and 3 second interviews. They identified their top candidate – Azarova – who they felt was by far the best applicant for the job, and someone who would bring great value to the IHRP. As she is currently living in Germany, the Assistant Dean consulted with internal university lawyers, external Canadian counsel, and external German counsel to determine whether immigration law issues could be dealt with in a sufficiently timely fashion to have Azarova in Toronto by the start of 2021. The Assistant Dean was satisfied that these issues were resolvable, and was prepared to make a positive (and enthusiastic) recommendation of Azarova to the Dean at a meeting scheduled for September 8, immediately following the long weekend.

The Dean’s summary decision to terminate the hiring process constitutes an egregious failure of collegial governance. Collegiality by definition involves consultation with colleagues. This consultation must be more than a purely pro forma exercise, and requires not merely collegial consultation, but collegial decision-making. Collegial governance also requires “due diligence”; that is, taking sufficient time to adequately reflect on the issues at hand, and making a bona fide effort to make sure that all pertinent facts are on the table. Added to this, the University’s hiring “Toolkit”, discussed by Mr. Cromwell in his report, states that hiring decisions are a matter of judgment “on the part of the selection committee”. This suggests that, at least in the hiring process, collegial governance requires a very high level of deference on the part of the ultimate decision-maker to the candidate recommended by the selection committee.

In this instance, none of these requisites were observed. The decision was made by the Dean in the space of less than two days. It was made without consulting with the selection committee, which had been intimately involved in the search process for many months, While the Dean telephoned the chair of the selection committee on Sunday September 8, he was not actually seeking her input, but confessed to her that he had already made up his mind to terminate the hiring process. Moreover, despite the fact that the decision was ostensibly made on legal grounds – unresolvable immigration/employment issues – it was made without any attempt to communicate with any of the internal or external counsel that had provided advice on the matter. Indeed, it was made against the view of the Assistant Dean, who believed, on the basis of the expert advice that she had received, that the immigration issues were eminently solvable.

The Dean consulted with the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, and the Vice-President & Provost. They indicated to the Dean that similar issues had satisfactorily been dealt with in the past. In short, the decision was more than merely non-collegial. It was non-consultative and unsupported by any objective facts.

Despite his statement that collegial governance was beyond his purview, at the end of his report, Mr. Cromwell states that:

“Collegial governance is one of the four principles to which the University is committed. As I see it, where a decision-maker feels unable to accept the recommendation of a selection committee, the principle of collegial governance supports full consultation and discussion before a final decision is made.”

He fails to mention, however, that this was precisely a situation in which “a decision-maker [felt] unable to accept the recommendation of a selection committee” – and that despite this there was no “full consultation and discussion before a final decision [was] made”. Thus, Mr. Cromwell does in fact ultimately demonstrate – without actually saying so – that the Dean’s decision violated one of the four fundamental principles on which the University was founded – collegial governance.

Q: What were the reasons that the University relied on to terminate the hiring of Dr. Azarova?

A: “Cross-border hiring issues” prevented Dr. Azarova from meeting the faculty’s timing needs for the IHRP Director position. Thus she could not begin work by a certain date. 

The following were not relied on: 

·    Dr. Azarova asked to be away from the law school for part of the summer

·    Dr. Azarova’s scholarship on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories under international law made her unfit for the job

·    Dr. Azarova was too ‘academic’ to be a committed Director of the IHRP

·    Dr. Azarova was not admitted to the bar in Ontario

Q: Why does CAUT consider the termination of Dr. Azarova’s hiring to be a breach of academic freedom?

A: CAUT considered the evidence documented in the Cromwell Report. The Report included material relating to the the Administration’s proffered explanation about ‘cross-border hiring’ and timing, and concluded that the decision to cancel this appointment was “politically motivated” (CAUT April 22: CAUT Council imposes rare censure against University of Toronto over Azarova hiring controversy | CAUT).

At the heart of this controversy is the behind-the-scenes role of donors in university decision-making, and the implications for academic freedom, non-discrimination, and collegial governance. This is not a new issue at the University of Toronto. In 2000, a pharmaceutical company that was a major donor successfully persuaded the university to terminate the appointment of Dr. David Healey, a psychiatrist whose academic research raised concerns about the safety of an antidepressant marketed by that company. In the current case, Justice Spiro’s intervention was instigated by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA), a pro-Israel advocacy organization. This kind of external interference must be challenged, no matter who the donor is or what their reasons are. 

A donor interfered in a confidential hiring process to raise objections about the ‘politics’ of Dr. Azarova’s scholarship as manifested in her criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Dr. Azarova was referred to as a “major anti-Israel activist” (Cromwell: 32) for advocating for Palestinian human rights on the basis of international human rights and humanitarian law. There is a documented pattern of discrimination against Palestinian scholars, and those who advocate for Palestinian human rights, on university campuses in Canada, the US and Europe (see for example Jon Thompson, No Debate, 2011; Susan G. Drummond, Unthinkable Thoughts, 2013; Steven Salaita, Uncivil Rights, 2015; and Masha Gessen, “Did a University of Toronto Donor Block the Hiring of a Scholar for her Writing on Palestine?”, New Yorker, May 8, 2021 Did a University of Toronto Donor Block the Hiring of a Scholar for Her Writing on Palestine?).

Q: Does it make a difference that the IHRP Director is not an academic position? 

A: There are at least four reasons why academic freedom principles apply in this case.

First, the University Statement on Freedom of Speech guarantees academic freedom to “all members of the University”, not just those holding academic appointments.  

Second, Article 5 of the Memorandum of Agreement between the University of Toronto and University of Toronto Faculty Association provides:

The parties to this Agreement acknowledge that the University of Toronto is committed to the pursuit of truth, the advancement of learning, and the dissemination of knowledge. To this end, they agree to abide by the principles of academic freedom as expressed in the following statement: academic freedom is the freedom to examine, question, teach, and learn, and it involves the right to investigate, speculate, and comment without reference to prescribed doctrine, as well as the right to criticize the University of Toronto and society at large. 

Article 5 sets out specific principles applicable to faculty and librarians “without limiting the above”. The general statement in Article 5 commits the University of Toronto to the principles underlying academic freedom. These cannot be secured if they are selectively denied to those without formal faculty and librarian positions but who perform similar functions, as sessional lecturers or clinical instructors do.

Third, in professional school settings, clinics perform many important teaching and mentoring functions. Though the directors themselves are not tenure-track faculty members, their day-to-day work intersects squarely with the academic, pedagogic, student-facing function of the university. This work goes to the heart of the academic enterprise, and deserves academic freedom protections. A model at one U of T professional school that recognizes the academic freedom of clinic directors is the Medical School’s “Clinical Faculty Academic Appointments” typology of clinical leaders.

When professor Kent Roach resigned as Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the Faculty of Law, he did so precisely out of concern about the denial of academic freedom protections for directors of clinical law programs. His resignation letter quotes from the Cromwell Report as follows:

Justice Cromwell in his report recognized “clinical instructors need courage to fearlessly advance unpopular positions and to advocate on behalf of the powerless. But they deserve to know that the University ‘has their back’ as they do so.”… As Justice Cromwell stated, “the conventional thinking” at the Uof T is that formal protections for academic freedom do not apply to the directors of clinics. The conventional thinking is wrong. It is an invitation to attempts to interfere with the work of our Faculty’s legal clinics, as has been well-documented in the United States. It is also a barrier to collegiality that would see the Faculty accept, as the students know, that clinical legal education is a vital part of modern legal education. Clinical directors deserve the same respect and protection as all other forms of legal education.

CAUT policy recognizes that where a staff member in an administrative or managerial position is performing functions to which academic freedom attaches (teaching, researching, writing), the rationale and the protection for academic freedom applies. 

Fourth, recall that the hiring process involved a selection committee, one of whom was a tenured academic (Audrey Macklin). The selection committee was formed pursuant to university commitments to collegial decision-making processes. That committee examined each application, reviewed all relevant scholarly writing, and made an assessment of the candidates. While one member of that committee was the assistant dean (an administrator who reports to the Dean), the other two were a tenured professor and a research fellow at the IHRP, whose work involves the very things to which academic freedom traditionally attaches (research, writing, teaching). The committee members exercised their own academic freedom in the course of unanimously identifying Dr. Azarova as the best candidate from the roster of applicants. For the then-Dean to abruptly subvert the selection committee violates that committee members’ academic freedom.

Q: If academic freedom did not apply, does that suggest that it is OK for donors to influence the hiring of a candidate for the Director of the IHRP? 

A: No. As quoted in the Cromwell Report (p. 6) the Administration concedes that external influence would be highly improper in any event: “University leadership and [the Dean] would never allow outside pressure to be a factor in a hiring decision.”

Q: Is a view that the former Dean of Law was influenced by external pressure the same as calling him a liar?

A: No. A person can honestly and sincerely believe they were not influenced by a given factor, and yet be mistaken. This is a basic insight that informs unconscious bias training – we are not always conscious of our own biases. We are not always conscious of the forces that shape our responses and reactions, especially when incentives point us in one direction more than another. Our own motives may sometimes be opaque to us. This means that we cannot take a sincere belief that one is not influenced as definitive proof of the actual absence of influence. One may honestly say “I was not influenced” even where the evidence leads to the opposite conclusion. 

Q: What’s wrong with Mr. Cromwell’s conclusions about the reasons for terminating the job offer?

A: Over the Labour Day 2020 weekend, a hiring process was abruptly terminated, following the intervention of a donor who communicated objections to Dr. Azarova’s hire because of her scholarship on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. These concerns were relayed immediately to the Dean of Law. The Administration denied that the donor’s intervention influenced the outcome. Instead, the Administration’s explanation was that Dr. Azarova (a foreign national residing in Germany) was offered the position on August 11 on condition that she begin working on September 30.  It would not be possible for her to begin work by September 30 except through an independent contractor arrangement enabling her to work online. The Dean rejected this option, and so the hiring process was terminated in favour of finding a suitable Canadian candidate.  

The existence of a September 30 start date was disputed. The unacceptability of the independent contractor arrangement was disputed. The availability of qualified Canadian candidates was disputed. Mr. Cromwell acknowledges that each element of the University’s explanation was disputed, but accepts them at face value anyway. That is wrong.  We cannot satisfactorily address these issues succinctly here. For a thorough analysis, see the Resources collected below. Critically evaluating the disputed facts leads to the inference that external intervention exerted an influence over the outcome. We encourage you to read them. 

Q: Was collegial governance undermined in the IHRP hiring process? 

A: Yes. The University’s Statement of Institutional Purpose considers “A collegial form of governance” as one of four principles to which the University is committed. Likewise, the Memorandum of Agreement between Governing Council of the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Faculty Association (MOA) (2016) commits “to promote and maintain harmonious collegial relationships within the University of Toronto, and to provide a mutually acceptable means of settling differences” (MOA 1).

A duly constituted search committee responsibly carried out its duties to nominate a candidate to serve as Director of the U of T Law School’s International Human Rights Program (IHRP). The members of the committee were engaged in university service, which is critical to the collegial governance of the University. The MOA declares “faculty members shall deal fairly and ethically with their colleagues, shall objectively assess the performance of their colleagues, shall avoid discrimination, shall not infringe their colleagues’ academic freedom, and shall observe appropriate principles of confidentiality” (MOA 2c). 

Search processes like this one take place regularly throughout U of T. If these principles are violated, it has implications for all collegial governance processes in every unit. Confidentiality and collegial governance processes were starkly violated in the Law School incident.

The Dean had been uninvolved in the IHRP Director hiring process until the intervention of the Donor. The actions of the Dean caused the Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the IHRP (who was also on the search committee) to resign after holding that position for a dozen years. The resignation was not acknowledged by the Dean.  Before the Dean announced cancellation of the search for a new Director, the Faculty Advisory Committee contacted the Dean to ask for a meeting, and received no acknowledgement or reply. They also resigned. An IHRP Research Associate (also on the search committee) resigned his paid position and left the university. These actions reveal the depth and severity of the breakdown of collegial governance.  

Indeed, Mr. Cromwell recommended that “where a decision-maker feels unable to accept the recommendation of a selection committee, the principle of collegial governance supports full consultation and discussion before a final decision is made” (Cromwell: 72). Such consultation and discussion did not happen.

Q: Is CAUT exceeding its mandate by imposing a censure on U of T?

A: No.The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has a responsibility to attend to issues of academic freedom and collegial governance, and has done so across Canada since it was founded in 1951. This is only the third time in its history that a decision to censure has been adopted. Censure proceedings have been commenced in other cases, but the affected universities and CAUT were able to arrive at a negotiated resolution to avert a censure. CAUT represents 68,000 academic staff at 122 universities and colleges across Canada (https://www.caut.ca/about-us/history-of-caut). The CAUT Council came to the unusual and rare decision to impose censure after a lengthy process of review and consideration. CAUT’s decision was unanimous (with one abstention, UTFA).

“When reviewing all the evidence, CAUT Council delegates concluded that the decision to cancel Dr. Valentina Azarova’s hiring was politically motivated, and as such constitutes a serious breach of widely recognized principles of academic freedom,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. The hiring process was abruptly aborted following concerns raised by a sitting judge over Dr. Azarova’s academic work on human rights in Israel and Palestine. Facing mounting criticism, the University of Toronto commissioned an external review undertaken by Justice Thomas A. Cromwell, but whose mandate did not include determining credibility or plausibility (CAUT April 22: CAUT Council imposes rare censure against University of Toronto over Azarova hiring controversy | CAUT).

Q: What is the role of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) in the dispute in the Law School? 

A: UTFA is a member of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). While abstaining on the CAUT Council original vote, UTFA to date has not taken a formal position on the censure. 

Q: What is the relevance of Dr. Azarova’s research on Israel/Palestine?

A: The Dean of the Law School suddenly intervened in, and terminated, Dr. Azarova’s hiring after a sitting judge and prominent alumnus (Justice Spiro) objected to Dr. Azarova based on her scholarship addressing Israel/Palestine (Cromwell: 32-33). The key issue in this case is that attention was focussed on Dr. Azarova’s political beliefs, as expressed in scholarly publications about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories under international human rights and humanitarian law. It should be obvious that human rights defenders often and even inevitably take positions that challenge existing uses and abuses of power. Recognition of Palestinian human rights, which are extensively addressed in international human rights law and policy, is no exception. 

Q: How has the issue of antisemitism entered the hiring process?

A: The issue of antisemitism did not arise within the Law School or during the search process related to the Directorship for the IHRP. The Cromwell Report does not mention antisemitism. 

Outside actors accused Dr. Azarova of antisemitism in their attempt to discredit her qualifications, experience and scholarship. Numerous submissions rejected this accusation of antisemitism, and objected to the misuse of the term (Independent Jewish Voices Canada, “Rights Group File Complaint Against Sitting Judge Accused of Meddling in U of T Hiring, Cite Anti-Palestinian Racism”, 2020 https://www.ijvcanada.org/rights-groups-file-complaint-against-sitting-judge-accused-of-meddling-in-uoft-hiring-cite-anti-palestinian-racism/).  Also, concerns have been raised that, given this confluence of circumstances, support for the censure risks perpetuating antisemitic tropes about Jews, wealth, and power. The perpetuation of anti-semitic tropes obviously needs to be strenuously opposed. The censure, however, in no way perpetuates such tropes. The focus of attention must be on how the university deals with and discourages attempts by any donor to influence decisions that impair academic freedom, engage discrimination, and undermine collegial governance. 

There is a vigorous international debate regarding antisemitism and criticism of the State of Israel – at the United Nations, in Canada, in Ontario, in Toronto and among faculty, students and staff at the University of Toronto. Such a debate will not and cannot be settled through interventions that challenge the collegial governance process regarding searches that is central to academic freedom and integrity.

Q: Mr. Cromwell gave a keynote address at a CIJA conference in the middle of conducting his review (in February 2021).  Why is this a problem?

A: Mr. Cromwell was appointed as an impartial reviewer. This required that the reviewer actually be impartial, in the sense of having no interest in the outcome, and also that the reviewer appear impartial to an outside observer. Both the reality and the perception of impartiality are necessary to maintain the confidence of participants in the process and the public.  Mr. Cromwell delivered a keynote lecture to CIJA after he knew that CIJA had acquired confidential information about Dr. Azarova’s hiring, and had solicited Justice Spiro to use his donor relationship to thwart the hire. Mr. Cromwell provided a (paid or unpaid) service to a party that played a significant role in the events he was in the midst of reviewing. Choosing to deliver a lecture to CIJA in these circumstances — whatever the content of the lecture — undermines the appearance of neutrality that is vital to impartiality. 

Resources

The law school student newspaper, Ultra Vires, maintains a resources page that includes most of the relevant publicly available documents:  http://ultravires.ca/2020/09/ihrp-director-hiring-controversy-resource-page/

Report-of-the-Hon-Thomas-A-Cromwell-CC-–-March-15-2021.pdf

Presidents-Response-to-the-Report-of-Hon.-Thomas-A.-Cromwell-CC.pdf

CAUT submission to the Honourable T. Cromwell re IHRP Review (2021-02-08).pdf

CAUT Report to Council.pdf

Carens – executive summary of response to Cromwell report.pdf

Carens, Academic Freedom and University Donors.pdf

An Analysis of the Cromwell Report – executive summary.pdf

Analysis of Cromwell Report.pdf

Cromwell and Philanthrophy.pdf

Moon-Response to Cromwell Report-Published on Blog of Ryerson University.pdf

Katz-Confidentiality and Privacy in Justice Cromwell Report.pdf