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article imageReport finds free speech in Canadian universities being eroded

By Andrew Moran     Nov 2, 2012 in World
Calgary - Canadian universities received a failing grade in the annual Campus Freedom Index by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF). The report claims that these post-secondary institutions have desecrated free speech.
The 2012 Campus Freedom Index looks at the state of free speech at Canadian universities. This year’s study assigned grades to 35 universities and student unions. Grades are given based on human rights and anti-discrimination policies. Higher grades are given if there is a clear anti-disruption policy, which prohibits students and other people from obstructing, blocking, suppressing or interrupting speech that these individuals disagree with.
It also looks at security fees to see if these can be utilized by officials as an indirect method from banning certain speech that they don’t approve of.
The Calgary-based centre noted that “actions speak louder than words,” which is why it only awarded three top “A” grades. At the other end of the scale, 28 “F” grades were given to 12 universities and 26 student unions for their policies and actions.
“Universities justify their censorship on grounds of safety and security, believing that people have a right not to be offended by what they see or hear on university campus, and believing that would-be violent protests must be appeased by censoring unpopular messages,” said John Carpay, study co-author and president of the JCCF, in a news release.
What universities received an “F” grade? The universities of McMaster, McGill, York, Carleton, Simon Fraser, Western Ontario, Concordia, Dalhousie, University of Toronto, Saint Mary’s and others were given “F” grades for these actions:
- Threatened Ann Coulter with civil and criminal penalties if she iterates her views incorrectly and did not provide proper security for, which forced the organizers to cancel the event (University of Ottawa).
- Cancelled campus events for Jared Taylor and British Member of Parliament George Galloway, who were deemed “too controversial.” (Dalhousie University).
- Prohibited the issue of a campus newspaper that featured images of the Prophet Mohammed (University of Prince Edward Island).
- Banned the expression “Israeli Apartheid” (McMaster University and Wilfrid Laurier University).
- Ordered a pro-life club to hold their activities in an isolated room so they would not offend anyone (University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario and Carleton University).
Meanwhile, student unions at Carleton University, Memorial University, McGill University, Lakehead University, University of Calgary and others were provided with an “F” grade for either banning campus pro-life groups or not certifying them. Also, the Students’ Society of McGill University Equity Committee can end funding for a club if it is in violation of its Equity Policy.
The University of Toronto did get an “A” for its policies and principles, while St. Thomas University got an “A” for its actions and policies and Mount Allison University’s Students’ Administrative Council was given an “A” for its student union actions and practices.
More about 2012 Campus Freedom Index, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, Canada, Universities, Free speech
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