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Report of the Open Forum on Free Expression and Peaceful Assembly

On Friday, October 6th I transmitted the report of the Open Forum on Free Expression and Peaceful Assembly to the Principal.  I am pleased to share the report with the entire University community through this blog.

Participants in the Open Forum included students, faculty, senior administrators, and non-academic staff.  The report aims to provide a faithful account of the views that I heard during the discussion sessions and academic symposium.

I thank the members of the Advisory Committee who provided guidance during the process and comments on drafts of the report.  I also thank Erin Crandall and Emmanuelle Richez, who provided logistical and research support to the Open Forum.

I enjoyed interacting with the community on these important issues, and I look forward to its feedback on the report.

Download the report.

Symposium and Public Meetings: Reference Materials

Symposium on Free Expression and Peaceful Assembly 

  • See online recording HERE.
  • See symposium program HERE.
  • See symposium pictures HERE.

Open Forum Public Meetings 

See online recordings HERE.

Unofficial minutes:

May 2nd Symposium: Live video streaming

The Symposium on Free Expression and Peaceful Assembly will be held on Wednesday, May 2nd from 1.00-4.45 at the McGill Faculty Club, ballroom (1st floor).

For those unable to attend in person, the forum will be AVAILABLE VIA LIVE VIDEO STREAMING. This can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

Those watching via the live stream wil also have the opportunity to submit questions. To make a comment or ask a question while watching the symposium, simply click on the button on the top left-hand corner of the screen labeled ‘ask’. Your message will be received by a moderator who will then present it on your behalf.

Symposium on Free Expression and Peaceful Assembly

Symposium sur la liberté d’expression et de réunion pacifique

April 4th public meeting: Live video streaming

The fourth and final public meeting of the Open Forum will be held on Wednesday, April 4th from 11.30-1.00 in the Bellini Atrium of the Life Sciences Complex. Lunch will be provided for those in attendance.

For those unable to attend in person, the forum will be available via live video streaming. This can be accessed by clicking here.

Those watching via the live stream wil also have the opportunity to submit questions. To make a comment or ask a question while watching the forum, simply click on the button on the top left-hand corner of the screen labeled ‘ask’. Your message will be received by a moderator who will then present it on your behalf.

March 27th public meeting: Live video streaming

The third public meeting of the Open Forum will be held Tuesday, March 27th, 1:30-3:00, in the Faculty Lounge of the Macdonald-Stewart Building, Macdonald Campus.

For those unable to attend in person, the forum will be available via live video streaming. This can be accessed by clicking here.

Those watching via the live stream will also have the opportunity to submit questions. To make a comment or ask a question while watching the forum, simply click on the button on the top left-hand corner of the screen labeled ‘ask’. Your message will be received by a moderator who will then present it on your behalf.

March 12th public meeting: Live video streaming

The second public meeting of the Open Forum will be held Monday, March 12th from 10:30-12:00 in the Break Out Room (2nd floor) of the SSMU building.

For those unable to attend in person, the forum will be available via live video streaming. This can be accessed by clicking here.

Those watching via the live stream will also have the opportunity to submit questions. To make a comment or ask a question while watching the forum, simply click on the button on the top left-hand corner of the screen labeled ‘ask’. Your message will be received by a moderator who will then present it on your behalf.

March 1st public meeting: Live video streaming

The first public meeting of the Open Forum will be held this Thursday, March 1st from 4:00-5:30 at Moyse Hall.

For those unable to attend in person, the forum will also be available via live video streaming. This can be accessed by clicking here.

Those watching via the live stream will also have the opportunity to submit questions. To make a comment or ask a question while watching the forum, simply click on the button on the top left-hand corner of the screen labeled ‘ask’. Your message will be received by a moderator who will then present it on your behalf.

Message to the McGill Community / Message à la communauté mcgilloise

As requested by Principal Heather Munroe-Blum, following her response to the Jutras Report on February 13, I am chairing an Open Forum on Free Expression and Peaceful Assembly as recommended in the report (Jutras Report, p. 39).  A 9-member Advisory Group will assist me in this endeavor.  The Advisory Group has been formed according to the Open Forum Terms of Reference and held its first meeting on February 21.  The members of the Advisory Group and the Terms of Reference can be accessed on this website.

As Chair of the Open Forum, my responsibilities are to convene, listen, and report the substance of discussions back to the University community.  My report will endeavor to provide a faithful and comprehensive account of the entire range of views articulated through the Open Forum; establish an evidence-based context for further discussion and action in these areas; and offer guidance to the University’s administrative and governance bodies on measures that will promote and protect free expression and peaceful assembly in a manner consistent with the rich and varied intellectual community of McGill University.

Four public meetings will constitute the principal vehicle for achieving the Open Forum’s objectives.  All members of the University community will be invited to articulate their views and hear those of others during these meetings.  The meeting schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, March 1, 4:00-5:30 (Moyse Hall)
  • Monday, March 12 (Downtown Campus, Time/Location TBA)
  • Tuesday, March 27 (MacDonald Campus, Time/Location TBA)
  • Wednesday, April 4 (Downtown Campus, Time/Location TBA)

Arrangements are being made to live stream the meetings and provide for interactive web participation.  In addition to these meetings, I am inviting individuals and groups to make written submissions directly to me.  I will also accept invitations to meet with groups and individuals between now and June 8.

As in all institutions, expression and assembly are already the subject of regulation at McGill in documents such as the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures; the Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Prohibited by Law; the Policy on the Responsible Use of McGill Information Technology Resources; and the recently enacted provisional protocol on protests.  In addition, the Jutras Report suggested several specific questions that ought to be considered in the Open Forum (Jutras Report, p. 41).  Finally, although not directly related to the events or issues that gave rise to the Jutras Report, other incidents on campus have recently raised questions about the University’s responsibility to protect the freedom of speech of controversial speakers and their audiences.  The Open Forum provides a unique opportunity for the University community to discuss these matters collectively.

The value and impact of the public meetings and other opportunities for input will directly depend on the level, quality, thoughtfulness and diversity of participation in the meetings.  I am confident that the McGill University community will approach this opportunity with seriousness of purpose and mutual respect.

***

À la demande de la principale Heather Munroe-Blum et dans la foulée de sa réponse au Rapport Jutras du 13 février, je présiderai un forum ouvert sur les droits à la libre expression et aux réunions pacifiques, conformément aux recommandations du rapport (Rapport Jutras, p. 37). Dans le cadre de cette initiative, je serai appuyé par un groupe consultatif composé de neuf membres. Ce groupe, constitué selon les paramètres du forum, a tenu sa première réunion le 21 février. La composition du groupe consultatif et les paramètres du forum ouvert figurent à l’adresse suivante: http://blogs.mcgill.ca/openforum-expression/

À titre de président du forum ouvert, il m’incombera de convoquer les assemblées, d’écouter les interventions et de faire état du contenu des discussions à la communauté universitaire. Dans ce rapport, je m’efforcerai de brosser un tableau fidèle et exhaustif des diverses opinions exprimées dans le cadre du forum ouvert, d’établir un contexte factuel qui servira de base aux discussions et aux mesures ultérieures et, enfin, de conseiller les instances administratives et dirigeantes de l’Université sur les mesures susceptibles de promouvoir et de protéger les droits à la libre expression et aux réunions pacifiques, en tenant compte de la richesse et de la diversité de la communauté intellectuelle mcgilloise.

La tenue de quatre assemblées publiques constituera le principal outil qui nous permettra d’atteindre les objectifs du forum. Au cours de ces assemblées, tous les membres de la communauté universitaire seront invités à faire connaître leur point de vue et à prendre connaissance de l’opinion des autres intervenants. Voici le calendrier des assemblées :

  • Jeudi 1er mars, de 16 h à 17 h 30 (Salle Moyse)
  • Lundi 12 mars (Campus du centre-ville, heure et lieu à déterminer)
  • Mardi 27 mars (Campus Macdonald, heure et lieu à déterminer)
  • Mercredi 4 avril (Campus du centre-ville, heure et lieu à déterminer)

Des dispositions seront prises pour assurer la diffusion en direct de ces rencontres et permettre la participation interactive sur le Web. J’invite également les personnes et les groupes intéressés à me faire parvenir directement leurs commentaires par écrit. Enfin, j’accepterai de rencontrer des groupes ou des intervenants individuels d’ici au 8 juin.

Comme c’est le cas dans tous les établissements, les droits à la libre expression et aux réunions pacifiques sont déjà réglementés à l’Université McGill, notamment dans le Code de conduite de l’étudiant et des procédures disciplinaires, la Politique sur le harcèlement, le harcèlement sexuel et la discrimination interdite par la loi, la Politique relative au bon usage des ressources informatiques de McGill, ainsi que dans le Protocole provisoire relatif aux manifestations en vigueur depuis peu. Le Rapport Jutras suggérait en outre qu’un certain nombre de questions méritaient d’être examinées dans le cadre du forum ouvert (Rapport Jutras, p. 39). Enfin, bien qu’ils ne soient pas directement liés aux événements ou aux enjeux à l’origine du Rapport Jutras, d’autres incidents survenus sur le campus ont récemment soulevé des questions sur la responsabilité qui incombe à l’Université de protéger les droits à la libre expression des intervenants qui tiennent des propos controversés, ainsi que celle de leur auditoire. Le forum ouvert constitue une occasion privilégiée pour l’ensemble de la communauté universitaire de discuter collectivement de ces questions.

La valeur et la portée des assemblées publiques et d’autres voies de communication seront directement tributaires de l’importance, de la qualité et de la diversité de la participation à ces rencontres, ainsi que de la réflexion sous-tendant les diverses interventions. Je suis persuadé que la communauté mcgilloise saisira l’occasion qui lui est offerte de s’exprimer avec tout le sérieux et le respect mutuel qui s’imposent.

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