Take off his engineer’s ring to oppose the absolution of Simon Houle

Take off his engineer’s ring to oppose the absolution of Simon Houle

Members of the engineering community are shaken by their peer’s absolution. If many believe that the sexual assault perpetrated by Simon Houle must be dissociated from the profession, others withdraw their ring in protest, particularly with regard to the reaction of the Order of Engineers of Quebec.

This is the case of an industrial engineer, Jonathan Simard. The master’s student at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR) explains his decision in a publication on LinkedIn. It has reacted thousands of Internet users.

“I chose to remove it [mon jonc]. Because I think that through what it symbolizes, it requires me to release confidence in the public, he writes. Neither my title, nor my training, nor my profession make me a citizen who can afford to misbehave. On the contrary. I will never accept that a member of the Order of Engineers of Quebec (OIQ), an organization to which I belong, has received clemency. Especially not for [une agression sexuelle]”.

Among the hundred comments under the publication, several support the initiative of Jonathan Simard. But several engineers also decry it.

Demonstrate differently

Engineering students receive their ring when they graduate with a bachelor’s degree. The ring is intended as a promise to serve the public before its own interests. Removing it is therefore a bad way to demonstrate, considers Montreal engineer Tyler Ball.

“That’s irrelevant. We engineers do a lot of good things. On the contrary, we must keep our ring to remain associated with the OIQ. It was Simon Houle who did something shameful, which must be dissociated from our order”, explains the signatory of an open letter on this subject in an interview with Subway.

His name, I’m tired of seeing him. I want to talk about the victims, and the good things that we engineers do.

Tyler Ball, Independent Water Treatment Engineer

Several engineers choose not to wear the ring, without this being related to political reasons or to the Simon Houle file. This way of demonstrating is therefore “a bit funny” and “shy”, says civil engineer Samie Dunand-Vincent. In his opinion, the engineers should not be associated with the sexual assault committed by Simon Houle. She deplores that judge Matthieu Poliquin used his professional status to grant him an absolution.

“If a scavenger committed a sexual assault, all the scavengers would not have to revolt”, underlines the one who works in the field of telecommunications structures. “For me, it’s more important to support the victims, to be shocked by the situation as a woman more than as an engineer.”

The OIQ did not comment on Simon Houle’s situation, but said it took “the reputation and dignity associated with the title of engineer” seriously. “The Professional Code provides that members of professional orders, including engineers, may be subject to disciplinary action if they are found guilty or plead guilty to a criminal offence,” however, specified the Order.


On the other side of the spectrum, a handful of Internet users consider the treatment given to Simon Houle in the public square as unfair. A Facebook group, named Justice for Simon Houle, has attracted around 50 members. There are publications trivializing the culture of rape and minimizing the act of the aggressor. Several people also blame the victims of Simon Houle.

“I don’t want to create a quarrel, but we agree that the girl ran after”, indicated for example a surfer. “Simon Houle has received his sentence, but the vigilantes in the public square allow themselves to put him on trial! I plead for him to be left alone and I created this group so that we can show him our support!” shared the group’s founder, Troy Pichette.

Simon Houle pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual assault. He sexually attacked a sleeping woman, while taking intimate photos of her. Judge Matthieu Poliquin, however, granted him a conditional discharge, allowing him to avoid a criminal record. Mr. Houle also admitted to having already assaulted another woman. He is not criminally charged for this other assault.

According to Radio-Canada, Simon Houle again demonstrated sexual misconduct less than two weeks after receiving an absolution, during a trip to Cayo Coco, Cuba. He would then have inappropriately touched another Quebec traveler.

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