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

Blog Post

Censorship in Canadian Schools

When there is a news report about books being challenged in a school library learning commons, it is often because the item was removed at the direction of the school or district administration fol

By Richard Beaudry

Blog Post

Should Public Library Boards Embrace Intellectual Freedom as Their Institutional Soul?

I want to first address the fundamental role and value of the public library in Canadian communities – its “value proposition,” grounded in intellectual freedom – and then make a case for intellect

By Alvin M. Schrader

Blog Post

Intellectual Freedom Debate: Why Meghan Murphy and Why Now?

In 2019, we seem to have crossed a professional threshold where discourse is still possible and ongoing but, like many other instances in our everyday lives, it is becoming politicized and polarize

By Richard Beaudry

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