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.


BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: The ALA's New List of the Most Frequently Challenged Books in U.S. Libraries

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.

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: Freedom to Read Week 2021

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.

BPC Bulletins

BPC Bulletin: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

July 10, 2020 - 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.