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.
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.
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.