On Campus

Is free speech protected on Canadian campuses?

New report ranks universities on ability to uphold freedom of expression

A new report released Thursday takes a critical look at the state of free speech at Canadian universities.

The 2011 Campus Freedom Index, published by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, measured the ability of 18 universities and student unions across Canada to uphold free speech on campus.

Each university and respective student union was ranked based on their policies and procedures regarding free speech, as well as their actions and practices when addressing freedom of expression issues on campus. While no university or student union received a perfect score, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, and University of New Brunswick received the best overall assessments. The University of Ottawa, Cartleton University, and the University of Calgary fared the worst.

Authors of the report contend that several schools have “turned a blind eye” to protestors physically or verbally disrupting speakers on campus. They argue that these universities have failed to uphold the rule of law, referring to Section 430 of the Criminal Code that prohibits individuals from obstructing or interfering with any person in lawful use of property.

The report is also accuses certain universities and student unions of censoring and discriminating against certain student clubs for promoting certain religious or ideological beliefs, citing Carleton and the University of Calgary as examples, for their handling of pro-life student groups on campus.

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