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Recent Cases (2010-present)

VALENTINA AZAROVA (University of Toronto)
The case of Dr. Valentina Azarova gained international attention when the Dean of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law abruptly ended negotiations to hire her as the Director of the International Human Rights Program (IHRP). This followed immediately after concerns were raised by a donor and sitting judge over Dr. Azarova’s academic work on human rights in Israel and Palestine. After a lengthy review of the case, CAUT Council imposed a rare censure on the University of Toronto administration, concluding that the decision to cancel Dr. Azarova’s hiring was ideologically motivated and as such constituted a serious breach of widely recognized principles of academic freedom. Read more

MICHAEL PERSINGER (Laurentian University)
Professor Persinger was removed from the classroom following a complaint about the pedagogical techniques he employed. This included the use of expressions and scenarios that some found offensive. The faculty association, supported by CAUT, grieved. In 2019, the parties agreed to a consent award that declared it was “improper and contrary to the Collective Agreement for the University to have removed Dr. Persinger from teaching” and that in doing so it “failed to consider Dr. Persinger’s academic freedom”.

ANA ISLA (Brock University)
Professor Ana Isla, along with several colleagues and graduate students, led a campaign calling on the university to cut ties with a program connected to conservative Catholic factions, and promoted values which she argued were antithetical to women's rights, including opposing abortion rights. The Roman Catholic chaplain at the University alleged discrimination and violation of the institution’s respectful workplace policy. A CAUT investigation found serious procedural violations and problems with the University’s respectful workplace policy. A complaint filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal was dismissed on the grounds that “it will be rare for this Tribunal to intervene where there are allegations of discrimination in relation to what another person has said during a public debate on social, political, and/or religious issues in a university”.

STEVEN LUKITS (Royal Military College of Canada)
In 2013, Professor Lukits was ordered by the administration of Royal Military College to comply with an Access to Information request for his course materials, slides, handouts, and handwritten notes. Lukits complied, but the matter was grieved by the association on the grounds that the request violated academic freedom because the College does not have custody and control of an academic’s materials. An arbitration board agreed the College breached the collective agreement by forcing “the production of material created for and in the course of teaching and research that is otherwise protected by the principle of academic freedom”.

Criminology professors Collette Parent and Christine Bruckert were subject to a search warrant requiring them to produce their research records and identities of research subjects. They sought an order from the Quebec Superior Court that their research records were protected by researcher-participant confidentiality privilege and therefore not compellable or admissible by a court. In granting the order, the Court stated: “Academic freedom is even of greater importance when the work product of university researchers was obtained and/or created and could only have been obtained and/or created, through a promise of confidentiality.”