Academic Freedom

The Issue

Academic freedom at Canada’s post-secondary institutions is being seriously undermined. A significant proportion of university and college academic staff are being hired into contingent positions lacking the job security that makes protection of academic freedom feasible. In response to chronic underfunding, universities have agreed to fundraising deals and collaborative projects that compromise academic integrity and academic freedom. Universities are actively implementing codes of conduct and respectful workplace policies that attempt to regulate speech permissible under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Why It Matters

The public mission of the university is to advance and disseminate knowledge, educate students, and encourage critical thinking and free expression. These ends cannot be achieved without academic freedom.

Our Work

The Centre engages in public education about the nature and importance of academic freedom. It highlights current threats and works to ensure that academic freedom rights are extended to all academic staff.

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Blog Post: (Free) Speech on Campus

In the general public sphere, expression is subject to relatively few legal restrictions. Canadian law includes ‘content’ restrictions on obscenity, hate speech, defamation, and false advertising.

By Richard Moon

Blog Post: University Speech Codes and the Wounds of White Fragility

(Co-written with Anver Emon, Professor of Law, University of Toronto)

By David Schneiderman

Podcast: White License, Free Expression & Death Threats: The Challenges of Confronting Racism

When Johnny Eric Williams used controversial racially-charged language on social media to draw attention to systemic racism, he faced death threats and was suspended by Trinity College.

Blog Post: A Hailstorm of Censorship at UBC

It would be nice to think that free speech in Canada is in surpassingly good health, that it can resist attacks from authoritarians and ideologues, that censorship is unthinkable in all but the rar

By William Bruneau

Blog Post: Supreme Court to Decide if Doctrine is Good for You

Late this fall, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) will decide if graduates of Trinity Western University’s proposed law school can use their TWU law degree to proceed to the bar.

By William Bruneau