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McGill facing scrutiny over academic freedom concerns

(Ottawa – March 23, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is concerned about the circumstances surrounding the sudden resignation of Professor Andrew Potter as Director of the Institute for the Study of Canada at McGill University.

Professor Potter found himself at the centre of controversy this week after writing a blog post for Maclean’s Magazine in which he argued the response to a recent snow storm in Montreal was reflective of a “pathologically alienated and low-trust society” in Quebec.

Some media reports suggest that following pressure from high profile figures, the McGill administration forced Potter to resign as Director of the Institute.

“If it is true that the McGill administration bowed to external pressure and forced Professor Potter to step down, then this would be one of the most serious violations of academic freedom in recent years,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Universities have an absolute obligation to protect and defend the academic freedom of their faculty from outside influences.”

Robinson notes that McGill’s policy on academic freedom explicitly states that “[t]he university and its officers have a duty to protect the academic freedom of its scholarly community, both individually and collectively, from infringement and undue external influence as well as to maintain the university’s institutional autonomy.”

CAUT is seeking clarity from the McGill administration about the events leading up to Professor Potter’s resignation.

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For more information, please contact:

Lisa Keller, Communication Officer, 613-820-2270 ext. 186 or keller@caut.ca