Intellectual Freedom

The Issue

Intellectual freedom is the right of everyone to hold and express opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which the many sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom is recognized by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19, as a basic human right.

Why It Matters

Democracy is an ongoing conversation – a public discourse – about what is legitimate and what is illegitimate. That public discourse must necessarily and in important respects be exempt from majoritarian regulation as to content or viewpoint. Both the right to express ideas and opinions and to have the freedom to hear and receive others’ ideas and opinions is the foundation of meaningful public discourse and democracy. 

Our Work

The Centre for Free Expression promotes public discussion of the importance of intellectual freedom. In cases where intellectual freedom is being challenged, the Centre provides advice and assistance so that the issue can be resolved and the concerns leading to the challenge can be addressed meaningfully without compromising intellectual freedom. The Centre has created a Working Group on Intellectual Freedom to help guide its work on this issue. Click here to see members of the working group.

Resources

News

Danielle MacKinlay Joins the CFE Working Group on Intellectual Freedom

Danielle MacKinlay, a long-time government librarian, is joining the Centre for Free Expression’s Working Group on Intellectual Freedom.

May 17, 2022

Blog Post

When a Book by an Eminent Indigenous Author Is Pulled from a School Library, Something is Wrong

Recent news of challenges to books in school and public libraries remind us that book challenges are not uncommon in Canada and, in most cases, are dealt with by the library staff.

By Richard Beaudry

News

Todd Kyle Joins the CFE Working Group on Intellectual Freedom

Todd Kyle, CEO of the Brampton Public Library, is joining the Centre for Free Expression’s Working Group on Intellectual Freedom.

March 7, 2022

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: A Wave of Censorship Hits U.S. Schools

November 22, 2021 - Between January and September 2021, 24 legislatures across the United States introduced 54 separate bills intended to restrict teaching and training in K–12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions.

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Waterloo Schools Plan to Remove Texts Deemed Harmful (2)

November 15, 2021 - In Ontario, the Waterloo Region District School Board is reviewing its library collections to identify and remove any texts deemed “harmful to staff and students.”