Nov. 8, 2023

Publication News | Should the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Protect Academic Freedom at Universities?

Linda McKay-Panos published the article for the Canadian Labour & Employment Law Journal

Linda McKay-Panos, executive director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, has published “Should the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Protect Academic Freedom at Universities?" in the Canadian Labour & Employment Law Journal.

This paper takes a close look at the relationship between academic freedom and the Charter right to freedom of expression, and argues in favour of extending Charter protection to academic freedom, either directly or through the prism of “Charter values”. Such an approach, the author contends, would counter what have recently been shown to be weaknesses in the existing protections for academic freedom. These weaknesses include variations in the definition of academic freedom across institutions governed by separate collective agreement, the differential impact of legislation enacted in several provinces regarding academic freedom, and the relative paucity of jurisprudence on academic freedom outside the arbitral forum. The legal analysis followed by courts in dealing with freedom of expression would be readily transferable and adaptable to cases involving academic freedom. Furthermore, the author argues, the application of Charter principles would generate a consistent body of case law that appropriately balances the complex competing interests at play, such as institutional autonomy and the right to be free from harassment and discrimination.