The association representing the country’s academic staff is warning that Nova Scotia’s universities could be sanctioned if they try to use new powers that many say violate constitutionally protected rights, and undermine academic freedom.
In a letter issued to each of Nova Scotia’s university presidents, the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) executive director David Robinson warned that any attempt to trigger the Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act would result in proceedings of formal censure.
“In the event you seek to use the powers in the legislation that take away the right to strike and grant government unprecedented powers to direct and determine research and instructional priorities, CAUT will immediately proceed with censure,” wrote Robinson.
Censure is a rarely used sanction applied by CAUT when a university administration acts in a manner that threatens academic freedom and tenure, undermines collegial governance, refuses to bargain in good faith, or takes other actions contrary to interests of academic staff or that compromise the quality and integrity of post-secondary education.
The new legislation was passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature on May 5th despite widespread opposition from faculty, staff and students both provincially and nationally.
“I am not surprised when governments, donors, or special interests try to intrude upon academic affairs,” wrote Robinson. “I am surprised when the leaders of our universities are so quick to acquiesce and accede to these pressures. I would expect more from those charged with defending the core academic principles of institutional autonomy, collegial governance, and academic freedom.”
The Canadian Association of University Teachers is the national voice of 68,000 academic and general staff at 120 universities and colleges across the country.
Bill 100 – CAUT letters to university presidents:
- Acadia University
- Atlantic School of Theology
- Cape Breton University
- Dalhousie University
- Mount Saint Vincent
- Nova Scotia College of Arts & Design (NSCAD)
- St. Francis Xavier
- Saint Mary's University
- University of King's College
- Université Sainte-Anne
CAUT letter to: