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

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

More than 140 intellectuals and artists — including authors and editors — have signed an open letter that welcomes current demands for racial justice and greater equality but also warns against increasing intolerance and censoriousness in public debate.

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Authors Protest Upcoming Speaking Event at Toronto Public Library- Part 3

October 29, 2019 - People continue to write about the scheduled speaking engagement of Meghan Murphy, a controversial feminist, at the Palmerston branch of the Toronto Public Library.

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Authors Protest Upcoming Speaking Event at Toronto Public Library - Part 2

October 23, 2019 - The Toronto Public Library has permitted Meghan Murphy, a controversial feminist, to speak on October 29, 2019. However, a group of authors has launched a petition to protest the event.

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Authors Protest Upcoming Speaking Event at Toronto Public Library - Part 1

October 18, 2019 - The Toronto Public Library has allowed Meghan Murphy, a controversial feminist, to book space for a public speaking event on October 29, 2019. However, a group of authors has launched a petition to protest the event.

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Vancouver Public Library Revises Room-Booking Policy

October 3, 2019 - The board of the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) has approved a revised policy for people who wish to book library rooms and equipment.