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Canada Called Out for 'Abysmal' Free Speech on Campuses

By October 31, 2012

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canadaWhen one thinks restriction of free speech, Canada usually doesn't come to mind. But one report calls the state of free speech at the country's public universities "abysmal," according to a new report. From the National Post:

The 2012 Campus Freedom Index (download PDF), released Wednesday by the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, awarded only three A's to 35 universities and student unions it analyzed in its second annual report. A grade of 'F' was far more common -- handed out 28 times to 12 universities and 16 student unions for everything from cancelling controversial speakers and obstructing pro-life groups to banning the expression "Israeli Apartheid."

"Everyone's forced to pay for these universities through tax dollars and the universities get the money in part by claiming to be these centres of free inquiry," said JCCF president John Carpay, who co-authored the report. "It's fundamentally dishonest for the university to go to the government ... and ask for hundreds of millions of dollars on the pretext that they are a centre for free inquiry and then receive the money and turn around and censor unpopular opinions."

While universities scored an average grade of C for having fairly sound policies and principles around free speech, the report said they weren't as good at following them.

For example, the University of Toronto earned an A for its policies, which include a statement on freedom of speech from its governing council and student code of conduct provisions that protect a person's right to voice views not everyone may agree with. But it scored an F for its actions -- the report citing the administration's 2008 effort to have pro-life groups turn their graphic posters towards the wall. Another example was a group being charged a $400 security fee for holding an Israeli Apartheid Week, a move study authors deemed unfair.

Student unions scored lower in the rankings, earning a D average on both policies and actions...

MORE: On the universal right to free speech

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