Tutorial freedom Quebec will discover a manner for its account

(Quebec) After Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann has raised rare unanimity against parts of her bill to protect “academic freedom,” she believes she has found a way to bring together the university community. The Liberals and the Parti Québécois will vote in favor, while Québec Solidaire will abstain because he decides the minister still gives herself too much power to intervene.

Published June 2

Hugo Pilon Larose

Hugo Pilon Larose

Bill 32, due to be passed in parliament on Friday, is the Legault government’s response to a commission chaired by Alexandre Cloutier, a former minister and vice-rector of the University of Quebec, Chicoutimi, aimed at protecting academic freedom. He received this mandate from Quebec while the newspaper in particular Pressthey cited examples of sometimes explosive climates on campus when sensitive terms or charged expressions such as “a word beginning with N” were mentioned in class.

This piece of legislation was sharply criticized last month in several respects. The university community (both rectors and professors and students) criticized, inter alia, the powers conferred on the Minister in Article 6, which stated that “it may, if it deems it necessary to protect the freedom of a university academic, order an educational institution to include in its policy states “. Quebec corrects the shot and clarifies that this power can only be exercised if the university does not apply the law.

The government is also transforming the councils, which were to “examine complaints concerning violations of the right to academic freedom and, if necessary, make recommendations on these complaints”, including “sanctions”, into simple committees. They will have the power to make simple recommendations.

The amended bill 32 now also includes the definition of academic freedom set out in the Cloutier report, which reflects the definition generally accepted by UNESCO. It is also specified that “university autonomy and university academic freedom are two pillars to ensure that the mission of the university is updated”, explains Mryes McCann, who wants the rectors to meet now, who are strongly opposed to passing the law.

Policies to be updated

Bill 32, which will be passed in the days following its adoption, makes Quebec a pioneer in the protection of academic freedom. “I am very proud and happy to be able to end my political life with this bill, which gives freedom of speech and freedom of discussion. I think it is very important in all areas of life, such as healthcare, “she said.yes McCann, a former health minister who is leaving politics after one term.

“I think this is a balanced bill that respects the autonomy of universities and protects academic freedom, which does not restrict it, on the contrary,” said his liberal colleague Hélène David. , a former minister of higher education under the Couillard government, who is also ending her political career.

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

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