McGill’s free speech wall reminds Montreal what free expression really means


McGill_April20152In April, students with Liberty at McGill raised a “free speech wall” on campus at the Redpath library. The wall event, which was supported by JCCF, encouraged students and passersby to share their thoughts, ideas and questions on the wall, as an exercise of their free expression rights. For the most part, these students took the opportunity in jest, declaring the best hockey team, their true love, or positive reinforcements upon the wall, while one brave student dared to question the value of Thomas Hobbes. As part of the event, students were given copies of the JCCF’s 2014 Campus Freedom Index, as well as its Know Your Rights on Campus guide for students.downwithharper

McGill’s 2015 free speech wall event, which followed all procedural rules and processes and was endorsed by the university, was overshadowed by student “anti-austerity” protests which have resulted in obstruction of academic space and time, misuse of university facilities and general unlawful and reckless behaviour across universities and CEGEPs in Quebec. As an advocate for the constitutional freedoms of all Canadians, JCCF recognizes the authority of universities to ensure that class time and academic programs are not obstructed by the expression of students or protesters.  The right to free expression does not give licence to students to obstruct classrooms, disrupt events, or misuse university property.  JCCF hopes the McGill free speech wall reminds these students the value, and responsibilities, of true free expression.