Brief of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) to the Honourable Danielle McCann, Ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur
Lindsay Shepherd, MA, Campus Free Speech Fellow, JCCF
Samuel Bachand, avocat, LIS s.a.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms supports the principle stated at section 3 in limine of the current version of Bill 32, An Act respecting academic freedom in the university sector, i.e. that “[…] academic freedom is the right […] to engage freely and without doctrinal, ideological or moral constraint in an activity through which the person contributes, in their field of activity, to carrying out the mission of an educational institution.”
A climate of self-censorship and ideological conformity is unfortunately defining the university experience for today’s faculty, staff, and students. A bill on academic freedom will reiterate that universities exist to promote truth-seeking and open inquiry – a reminder that many on campus are desperately in need of. The Québec Charter and the Canadian Charter do not cease to exist when one steps onto a university campus: laws regarding defamation, harassment, hate speech and discrimination still apply. It is counter to the spirit of higher education for a professor or student to be subject to more limitations on academic expression in a university building than they would be if they were on the sidewalk across the street.