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.


Blog Post

The Censure of the University of Toronto as a Struggle Over Higher Education


A year ago, a major hiring scandal erupted at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. The scandal broke after the former Law Dean decided not to proceed with the hiring of Dr. Valentina Azarova to direct its International Human Rights Program after a donor and sitting judge objected to her work on Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories.

By Deborah Cowen
Co-written by Alissa Trotz, Denise Reaume, Melanie J. Newton

Blog Post

Misadministering Justice? The U of T Law School Case Takes a Strange Turn


The Canadian Judicial Council recently disclosed material related to complaints made about Justice David Spiro. This material is both enlightening and startling and includes a letter from the Chief Justice of the Tax Court that says that Muslim lawyers and litigants will be excluded from Justice Spiro’s courtroom. 

By Richard Moon
Co-written by Anver M. Emon

Blog Post

Expressive Freedom at Our Universities and Our Moral Obligations

Everything is connected, as they say. 

The University of Alberta has been in the news recently for its partnerships with Chinese researchers. Globe and Mail article in early May suggested that partnerships with China in the areas of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence might be a national security concern.

By Carolyn Sale

Blog Post

Unrest in Higher Education: An Uncertain Way Forward

Students and faculty from a wide array of minority and marginalized communities are challenging universities on many fronts. 

By Faisal Bhabha

Blog Post

“Safe Space” Classrooms within “Communities of Care”

There is a lot of talk (and some action) around safe spaces these days.

By Len Findlay