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Bailiff letters continue to stir up trouble

by Archives January 16, 2002

Interim CSU President Patrice Blais has issued a formal request to further investigate General Council Bram Freedman’s involvement in the release of confidential information to outside parties.
The request is the result of an event that took place on Oct. 17, 2001, where members of the CSU council of representatives and CSU executives received bailiff letters at their homes. The letter stated that they must attend an Oct. 18 council meeting to appoint a Chief Electoral Officer or legal action would be taken against them. Council needed to appoint a CEO since a byelection had to be called after former CSU President Sabrina Stea resigned.
At the university senate meeting on Oct. 18, Freedman denied having any involvement in the release of personal information. Blais, however, says he has reason to believe he is lying. “I have direct testimony from people who say he was aware of it.”
Nonetheless, following the senate meeting, Freedman conducted a search to find out who in fact, disclosed the addresses. “I determined that the information had been released by my office, not by me personally, but from my office.” Further research on Freedman’s behalf confirmed that his office committed no crime. “The release was perfectly legal,” Freedman said after learning that CSU is subject to the sections of the Companies Act, which states that “the names and addresses of all directors of a company are public information.”
But Blais is not satisfied by Freedman’s answers. “He’s hiding behind the legal [aspect] of it and never addressing the questions we are posing to him.” The CSU wants to know precise information such as who handled the request and at what point Freedman became aware that bailiff letters had been sent. According to Blais, Freedman has not yet answered any of these questions.
A further statement published in the Nov. 6 issue of the Link keeps Blais convinced that Freedman really did lie in Senate about knowledge of the addresses being released. In the Link’s article, Freedman was asked about the ethical implications of the release of addresses. He replied that, “If it wasn’t ethical, I wouldn’t have done it.” Blais is using Freedman’s use of the first person as proof that he played a large role in the release of addresses.
But Freedman says too much is being read into his choice of words. “If I did actually say to the reporter I wouldn’t have released it, it was clearly an error. I meant to say that my office wouldn’t have released it.”
Even so, the formal request demanded that Freedman make an apology to each recipient of the legal letter and that a printed version of the apology be published in all three of Concordia’s newspapers- the Concordian, the Link and The Thursday Report. Additionally, Blais requested that Freedman make a written commitment that the university will try to refer any future requests to the respective organization and that every corporation will be contacted 24 hours prior to releasing any personal information about their members.
A final point in the formal request made to Freedman asked that he disclose all his interactions related to the CSU byelections, the naming of CEO, the delivery of bailiff letters and the petition to recall former President Sabrina Stea.
The event still remains unresolved. “I’ve been waiting for a reply [from Freedman]. His deadline is on Thursday and we’re holding our ground until then,” Blais said in a recent interview. “We’ll work both inside and outside the university until we get the proper remedy.”
Freedman remains adamant that he, in fact, had no previous knowledge of the release of addresses when asked in Senate on Oct. 18 and has done nothing wrong, “I’m not quite sure what Blais is trying to get at. The position that I have expressed is very clear.”
In the meantime, Blais cannot predict the consequences Freedman may face, but he promises not to let the issue go unanswered. “We’ll check the code of ethics in the university and ask them to take care of it. His superiors will definitely be involved.”
In fact, Rector Frederick Lowy has already promised to look into the event and keep on top of any further developments in the case. Lowy was unavailable for comment.

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