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Sault College president sues Conestoga counterpart, seeks formal apology for vulgar attack

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The war of words between the presidents of Sault College and Conestoga College has escalated into a legal battle.

A civil lawsuit was filed in Sault Ste. Marie on April 11 on behalf of Sault College against Conestoga and its president, John Tibbits, seeks $200,000 in damages plus interest and court costs.

The suit comes after Tibbits attacked Sault College president David Orazietti at an event Feb. 14, calling him a “whore” among other insults. None of the allegations has been tried in court.

The conflict is centred on the issue of housing for international students. In the statement of claim, Orazietti said that during an interview on Feb. 9, he pointed the finger at Conestoga, saying the international student population had grown too fast.

“Mr. Orazietti cited the example of the student population at Conestoga College growing by approximately 20,000 students in a year, and the resulting community concerns and increased demand for housing and other services in the community caused by such an increase in student population,” the statement of claim said.

Conestoga College president John Tibbits reportedly hurled insults at Sault College's David Orazietti following comments Orazietti made about Conestoga's impact on the federal government's decision to cap international student enrollment. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)

“At all times, Mr. Orazietti’s statements were objective and based in fact.”

Tibbits fired back in a Feb. 14 interview. The statement claim accuses him of making these statements, among others:

- Stating Mr. Orazietti had only been on the job as president with Sault College for a few months and needed to learn to ‘shut his mouth’;

- Stating ‘Like Orazietti, why are his goddamn students in Toronto? Why not up there? Talk about a whore, I mean, he's taking a percentage of the profits of an operation," followed by ‘I can't stand the guy by the way.’

“Unfortunately, we’ve had to take this necessary step as a last resort given the seriousness of the public comments made by Mr. Tibbits to further protect the integrity of Sault College,” the college said in a statement.

“We have been more than reasonable in our request for a direct apology for his personal attacks and misinformation about our college and our operations. However, to date, the Conestoga College Board of Governors is either unwilling or unable to hold Mr. Tibbits accountable.”

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