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. 

Resources

Blog Post

Social Justice Requires Intellectual Freedom - Why the Toronto Public Library Should Refuse to Deplatform Meghan Murphy

Once again, the Toronto Public Library is under attack for upholding intellectual freedom.

By James L Turk

Blog Post

Can Public Libraries Maintain Their Commitment to Intellectual Freedom in the Face of Outrage over Unpopular Speakers?

An unprecedented number of public disputes have erupted across Canada in recent years about meeting room bookings and speaker’s events in the country’s public libraries. Most disturbingly, critics have ignored, disparaged, and frequently rebuffed the time-honoured commitments of Canadian public libraries to freedom of expression and unfettered access to library services.

By Alvin M. Schrader

Blog Post

“No-Platforming” should have No Place in a Public Library

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) Board kicked-off 2018 by bringing in a new policy on community and event space rental.  While the new policy is meant to address discrimination and promote inclusio

By Micheal Vonn

Blog Post

Public Libraries and Freedom of Expression

Should we expect our public institutions to protect our freedom of expression?  The Toronto Public Library made a controversial decision in July 2017 to permit a memorial to the late Barbara Kulasz

By Danielle S. McLaughlin