(Ottawa – May 23, 2018) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has written to Durham College president Don Lovisa urging him to rescind a new school policy purporting to ban political activity by any staff.
The letter points out that a ban on political activity by staff — both on and off campus — places unjustifiable restrictions on the political activity of staff and represents a serious violation of academic freedom and basic democratic rights.
“Academic freedom means academic staff have the right to engage in political activity, and to express support for or opposition to a political party both inside and outside of campus. Universities and colleges are places where debates on matters of public concern must be encouraged, not stifled,” the letter states.
Lovisa has attempted to justify the ban by suggesting it is required by the 2006 Public Service of Ontario Act. However, as pointed out in CAUT’s letter, that Act does not apply because colleges aren’t considered “public bodies” or “crown agencies” as defined in the Act, and nor are college staff classified as “public servants.”
CAUT has referred the matter to its Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee for further consideration and action.
Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers
(o) 613-726-5186 (c) 613-222-3530