Sunday, December 3, 2023

Province to set up annual reporting on free speech at post-secondaries

The Alberta government says all post-secondary institutions will have to report annually on efforts to protect free speech on campus.

“It is abundantly clear that more needs to be done to ensure our institutions are adequately protecting free speech,” said minister of advanced education Demetrios Nicolaides. “Alberta’s post-secondary institutions should be bastions of free speech and academic freedom that promote critical thinking. I will continue to explore greater steps we can take to strengthen free speech on campus.”

The announcement comes after a controversial speaker had a public talk canceled at the University of Lethbridge and was met by resistance when she attempted to go forward with the event anyway. Frances Widdowson was set to give a public guest lecture on ““how ‘woke-ism’ threatens academic freedom” on Feb. 1, but it was canceled after pushback from faculty and students who were concerned about her views on residential schools and the Black Lives Matter Movement. She was free to go ahead guest lectures inside of the classroom.

READ MORE: ‘She is not welcome on our campus’: hundreds rally against controversial speaker at U of L

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The University of Lethbridge said it will work with the province to learn more about the annual reporting and to develop plans for implementation.

“The University of Lethbridge’s mandate affirms its commitment to protect free inquiry and scholarship, facilitate access to scholarly resources, and support artistic expression and free and open scholarly discussion of issues,” reads a statement provided to My Lethbridge Now.

Parliamentary secretary for civil liberties, Tracy Allard, said she is proud of the government’s “work to uphold Albertan’s civil liberties.”

“This new reporting requirement delivers on advanced education’s mandate to ensure our post-secondary institutions are adequately protecting the academic freedom and free speech of students and faculty,” she said.

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