Blog

Nov 18
2020

It’s Complicated: Six Things Worth Discussing About Free Speech


Well, hello again. Having ended last month's column with a candid appeal for readers to "talk back" about free speech, I was grateful to those who took me at my word. They made me think new thoughts, which is, of course, the whole idea.


By Ivor Shapiro / Posted Wednesday November 18, 2020

Artistic Expression, Censorship, Freedom of the Press

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Nov 12
2020

Freedom of Information, Universities & Transparency: Lessons from Emily Eaton and the University of Regina


Access to information (ATI) is animated by a simple principle: the public ought to know. Despite governments unfortunately tending towards secrecy and risk-aversion, a free flow of information is absolutely vital for democracy. ATI, then, is an important democratic safeguard, to mitigate the negative predilections of government and ensure a robust state of public discourse. ATI legislation first emerged in Sweden in 1766, but it wasn’t until the postwar era that it began to flourish in a number of other liberal democracies.


By Dax D’Orazio / Posted Thursday November 12, 2020

Academic Freedom, Government & Corporate Transparency

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Nov 5
2020

Prophet Cartoons and Free Expression


France’s obsession with depicting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is back in the news following the murder of middle school teacher, Samuel Paty last month for showing his students a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo

Following the gruesome murder by an 18 year old Russian immigrant, French President Emmanuel Macron called the incident “a typical Islamist terrorist attack” and praised Mr. Paty as the "face of the republic" and a person who "believed in knowledge."


By Abbas Kassam / Posted Thursday November 5, 2020

Censorship

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Oct 23
2020

Beethoven to the Guillotine?


In recent years, certain factions of the “socio-culturally aware” class have been sifting through history with the fine-toothed comb of 21st century moral superiority, snagging a host of prominent figures and indicting them for not meeting the rigorous standards of this particular moment (not year, or season, but moment, as the goalposts change by the minute).  It doesn’t matter if the offender is Robert E.


By Daniel Lelchuk / Posted Friday October 23, 2020

Artistic Expression

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Oct 8
2020

Dangerous Dialogues: How Speaking Freely Changes Lives (And Sometimes Ends Them)


Around the time the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was lying in state, my friend Farid reposted on Facebook a report headlined, “Accepting Israeli prize in 2018, RBG never mentioned Palestinians,” published by Mondoweis, a blog focused on Palestinian rights.


By Ivor Shapiro / Posted Thursday October 8, 2020

Censorship

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Oct 1
2020

Free Speech Caution Tape: Can We Trust Those Lines?


An easy mistake to make in any discussion of freedom of expression is to believe there is absolute certainty anywhere in the definition of that term. If you are jumping into a debate on free speech certain you know exactly what you believe (plus all the implications of that belief), chances are you’ve grossly over-estimated your own position. If you’re doing that on Twitter, either get your thumbs familiar with the block/mute functions, or free up a lot of time for an epic Twitter fight unlikely to solve anything for anyone.


By John Degen / Posted Thursday October 1, 2020

Artistic Expression, Speech Restrictive Laws

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Sep 28
2020

Contest Over “Restructuring” and Collegial Governance at University of Alberta Could Set Dangerous New Precedent Across Canada


All eyes on the University of Alberta! Collegial governance is under attack there, along with the capacity of faculty to exercise their academic freedom rights. It is not clear whether the elected representatives of the General Faculties Council will have the meaningful opportunity to discuss and debate the restructuring process and proposed scenarios. If they cannot there may be serious consequences for the University of Alberta, and a harbinger of what may be facing the entire Canadian academy.


By Carolyn Sale / Posted Monday September 28, 2020

Academic Freedom

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Sep 21
2020

The Supreme Court’s judgments on Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation: Seven key takeaways


On September 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada released its highly anticipated decisions in two cases addressing the interpretation and application of Ontario’s “anti-SLAPP” laws.  The two appeals — 1704604 Ontario Ltd. v. Pointes Protection Association and Bent v.


By Justin Safayeni / Posted Monday September 21, 2020

Speech Restrictive Laws

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Aug 12
2020

The Professor, the Petition and the President: Professor Bhabha, B’Nai Brith, and President Lenton


On June 23, 2020, B’Nai Brith issued a press release and posted an online petition calling on York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton to bar Professor Faisal Bhabha from teaching any “human rights” course at Osgoode Hall Law School. More than six weeks later, the President has not provided an open or transparent response to B’Nai Brith’s widely publicized condemnation of Bhabha and petition to remove him from the classroom. 

The professor


By Jamie Cameron / Posted Wednesday August 12, 2020

Academic Freedom

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Jul 13
2020

The Kids Are Not All Right: Freedom of Expression and the Online Classroom


I don’t want to read one more piece that begins, “In these difficult (unprecedented, challenging, etc.)  times,” and neither do you. However, since the world changed, I have serious and long-term concerns about teaching and free expression. Now that the greater part of the K-12 experience has moved online or to other internet based instruction, and at the same time society has become less tolerant of unpopular opinions, I fear that we may be developing a generation of students who do not know how to disagree without becoming disagreeable.


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