Tutorial Freedom | Quebec finds a method to your account

(Quebec) After arousing rare unanimity against entire sections of her bill to protect “academic freedom”, Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann believes she has found a way to bring the university community together. Liberals and the Parti Québécois will vote for its adoption, while Québec solidaire will abstain, judging that the minister still grants herself too many powers of interference.

Posted on June 2

Hugo Pilon Larose

Hugo Pilon Larose
The press

Bill 32, which must be approved Friday in Parliament, is the Legault government’s response to the report of the commission chaired by the former minister and vice-chancellor of the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi Alexandre Cloutier, who is concerned about protection of academic freedom. The latter had received this mandate from Quebec while newspapers, in particular The presscited examples of sometimes explosive climates on campus when sensitive concepts or charged terms, such as the “word that starts with an N,” were mentioned in class.

This piece of legislation had been severely criticized in the past month on several counts. The university community (rectors, professors and students alike) criticized, among other things, the powers conferred on the minister in article 6, which provided that she “may, when it deems it necessary to protect university academic freedom, order an educational institution to include in its policy any element it indicates.” Quebec corrects the shot and specifies that this power can only be exercised in the event that a university fails to implement the law.

The government also transforms the councils that are supposed to “examine complaints concerning the violation of the right to academic freedom and, if necessary, make recommendations on these complaints”, including “sanctions”, to make them simple committees. They will have the power to issue simple recommendations.

Amendment 32 now also incorporates the definition of academic freedom set out in the Cloutier report, which echoes the definition universally recognized by UNESCO. It also specifies that “university autonomy and university academic freedom are two pillars to ensure that the university mission is updated”, explains Mr.I McCann, who wants the presidents – strongly opposed to the adoption of a law – to unite around it now.

A policy that will be updated

Bill 32, which will be signed into law in the days following its adoption, makes Quebec a pioneer in protecting academic freedom. “I am very proud and happy to end my political life with this bill that gives freedom of expression and freedom of debate. I think it’s very important in all walks of life, like healthcare,” said Ms.I McCann, a former health minister, who is leaving politics after one term.

“I think it’s a balanced bill that respects the autonomy of universities and protects academic freedom, which doesn’t limit it, quite the contrary,” said fellow liberal Hélène David. , former Minister of Higher Education in the Couillard government, who is also ending his political career.

Universities will have one year after the law is passed to develop a policy that deals exclusively with academic freedom. They will then have to report to the government. The Minister will report to the National Assembly after five years.

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