Laval University formed a committee with an arbitrator to hear Mr. Provost's plea and all the individuals involved in his disciplinary decision.
Patrick Provost is a researcher who specializes in the field of lipidic RNA, and during his career, he made notable scientific advancements. In September 2021, Laval University published an article to discuss the discovery of a new class of RNA made by Mr. Provost's laboratory.
Amid the pandemic, on December 7, 2021, Mr. Provost voiced his apprehensions regarding the advantages and drawbacks of COVID-19 vaccination in children before an assembly of medical professionals and scientists:
Following this statement, a complaint was filed against him at Laval University. After evaluation, the institution suspended Mr. Provost for a duration of 8 weeks without pay, from June 14 to August 9, 2022.
During his suspension period, the Journal de Montréal published an article written by Mr. Provost titled "The True Portrait of COVID-19 in Quebec." This letter became viral and was removed from circulation about two days after publication.
Subsequently, Mr. Provost reiterated his position against child vaccination during a radio segment on Radio X on July 14, 2022. This statement led to another complaint, this time from a citizen, and was considered legitimate and admissible by Laval University.
Another disciplinary report was drafted, and Mr. Provost was suspended for a period of 4 months without pay, from January 23 to May 23, 2023. The institution also informed Mr. Provost that any recurrence could result in his dismissal.
Following this, the union representing Mr. Provost's interests filed a grievance to contest the two suspensions that Mr. Provost underwent.
However, since June 7, 2022, a new law has been in effect to protect academic freedom in Quebec's university environment, namely, Law 32.
Pascal Déry, the Minister of Higher Education, intervened on January 17, 2023, in an article published in Le Devoir, stating that censorship has no place in academic settings.
The Committee of the Permanent Commission on Academic Freedom (COPLA) and the Quebec Federation of Université Professeurs (FQPPU) analyzed the professor's first suspension and concluded that the University had indeed violated Law 32 and had diverted the disciplinary process to penalize Mr. Provost.
Today, Mr. Provost is participating in the 10th hearing out of 24, which will span over a period of more than 1 year to shed light on the abuses of sanctions imposed by Laval University. The verdict will only be known in 2024.