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.
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.
May 9, 2021 - In Canada, parents and activists are pushing public libraries in Ottawa and Halifax to remove a book about transgender youth.
Panelists: Michael W. Apple, Brandi Bartok, Kamaljit Purewal, Dianne Oberg
Moderator: Richard Beaudry
April 6, 2021 - In the United States, the American Library Association has released its list of the most frequently challenged books in public libraries in 2020.
March 4, 2021 - In Canada, Freedom to Read Week ended on February 27. The national event caught the attention of journalists in several Canadian communities.