Concordia University has a spy-squad that snooped on novelist for "bilingual interests"

Rob sez,

"Documents recently obtained through access to information legislation show that author David Bernans was being spied upon by investigators at Concordia University in Montreal.

"In this first-person narrative, Bernans chronicles his experience dealing with Concordia's security apparatus, and questions the motivations of a university that spies on and censors its students."

Christ, a university with its own private eye squad made up of failed Fed cops? What's next, a no-fly list for the campus shuttle-bus? Lookit these Keystone Kop bumblers, chasing people around because they're "interested in bilingualism." Hey, Concordia grads, is this how you want your alumni donations being spent?

The entire text of Investigator Lachance's September 7, 2006, email report on my activities is reproduced below (translated from its original French by the bilinguaphile yours truly).


I learned this morning that Dr. Bernans will give two readings for a "launch" of his book, "Beyong 9/11" (sic.): one at McGill University, on September 11, 2006, at 4:30 p.m. and one at Concordia University, the same day at 7 p.m. at the Coop Bookstore.

It seems that Dr. Bernans is interested in bilingualism at Concordia. He was photographing posters this morning.

Jacques Lachance, Investigator

The email was sent from the investigator to the head of Concordia Security, Jean Brisebois (a former RCMP agent), and a copy sent to Robert Rivard (another member of the Concordia Security establishment). Robert Rivard replied the same day to thank the investigator for his report, saying cryptically (at least from my perspective as outsider trying to make sense of these internal communications) "Agents will be informed."

To be honest, I was more than a little miffed that the investigator got the title of my book wrong. For the record, the novel is called North of 9/11 (Cumulus Press, 2006). He managed to get the time and place of both events right, but neither of the readings could be described as a "launch" since the book had already been launched at Concordia the previous spring. I have no clue what the reference to bilingualism means and I have no recollection of having taken any photographs of posters that morning at the Montréal downtown campus. In fact, it would have been quite a feat since I had no camera. I do recall a photographer from a McGill student newspaper snapping pictures of me going up and down the clunky escalators connecting the floors of the concrete bloc that is Concordia's Hall Building. I suppose that could have been what the investigator was reporting to his superiors, thinking the photographer was working for me on some secret terrorist bilingual reconnaissance mission. But why "agents" (presumably campus security guards) needed to be informed about any of this, is puzzling to say the least.

Documents show university spied on novelist

(Thanks, Rob!)