(Ottawa – November 24, 2018) An investigation into the controversial resignation of Dr. Andrew Potter from the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) has found that not only did the University fail in its duty to protect Professor Potter’s academic freedom, but that its justification for his resignation has undermined the academic freedom of all academic staff at McGill.
The report, prepared for the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), is calling on the University to develop policy to give full protection of academic freedom to academic administrators.
Professor Potter found himself at the centre of controversy in March, 2017 after writing a blog post for Maclean’s Magazine in which he suggested the response to a snow storm in Montreal was reflective of a “pathologically alienated and low-trust society” in Quebec. He later resigned his position as director of the MISC.
“The central academic freedom issue in this case arose from the McGill administration’s claim that academic administrators do not enjoy the same protections as academics without administrative positions,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “It is well understood that universities have as their fundamental commitment the search for knowledge and understanding. This requires an environment free from institutional censorship against any academic.”
The CAUT investigation found no conclusive evidence that the McGill administration put pressure on Professor Potter to resign as Director of MISC, but concluded such pressure would not have been inconsistent with the University’s belief in the conditional academic freedom of academic administrators.
CAUT is the national voice of more than 72,000 academic and general staff at 125 universities and colleges in Canada.
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