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Academic Freedom in Canada

Academic Freedom in Canada: A History

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 434
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  • Book Info
    Academic Freedom in Canada
    Book Description:

    Covering issues from the resistance in universities to Darwinist thought, to the experience of women and ethnic minorities, to ?economic? and ?political correctness,? from 1860 to the present.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7057-0
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
    Michiel Horn
  5. 1 Introduction: Not a Burning Question
    (pp. 3-14)

    ‘Academic freedom is not … a burning question in Canadian universities.’ President Carleton Stanley of Dalhousie University was writing to John Wesley Dafoe, the editor of theWinnipeg Free Press. ‘Despite criticism I have heard, I think our record is pretty clean that way. But … it’s not a question that we can neglect.’ ¹

    Stanley was trying to organize a session on academic freedom for the 1937 annual meeting of the National Conference of Canadian Universities (NCCU), scheduled for the end of May. His efforts were meeting with scant success. Although he and the NCCU secretary, the Queen’s University...

  6. 2 A House Divided
    (pp. 15-39)

    In November 1860, Queen’s College in Canada West welcomed a new principal. Drawn from a pastorate in Scotland, William Leitch was ‘a man of solid attainments with, in addition to the usual classical and theological training, a wide knowledge of and a great enthusiasm for the natural sciences.’ ¹ The small institution at whose head he found himself seemed ready to expand. Instead, it became embroiled in conflict. Within four years, several professors had resigned or been dismissed, and Leitch himself was dead of heart failure.

    The problems began in the College of Medicine. In 1862 the professor of anatomy,...

  7. 3 The Great War
    (pp. 40-61)

    The years from 1914 to 1920 sorely tested the universities. Faculty and students went overseas to fight; many did not return. The diversion of money to the war effort also hurt the institutions. Hardships did not end with the armistice in November 1918. A deadly influenza epidemic closed the universities for several weeks in the winter of 1918–19, and war-caused inflation raged into 1920. There was much social unrest, the best-known instance being the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, but the universities remained quiet. During the war there had been virtually no professorial criticism of the war effort, and in...

  8. 4 The Most Treasured Privilege
    (pp. 62-87)

    ‘It is one of the most sacred privileges of a university that its professors shall enjoy academic freedom.’ Sir Robert Falconer, addressing alumni of the University of Toronto on 14 February 1922, was in full oratorical flight: ‘A university in which professors are overawed by political, social, or sectarian influence cannot aspire to an honourable position in the Commonwealth of Learning … We can measure the rank and stability of a university by the security given to a professor to pursue and expound his investigations without being compelled to justify himself to those who differ from him.’ ¹ Bold as...

  9. 5 The Great Depression
    (pp. 88-127)

    The worst economic slump of the twentieth century began in 1929 and continued into 1933. In Canada the recovery, interrupted by a new downturn in 1937–8, was incomplete when the Second World War began. Canadian universities shared this experience as total university income, which had been $22 million in 1930, fell to $15.4 million in 1935 and rose to only $17.5 million by 1940.¹ Tution fees increased everywhere by as much as 50 per cent as other kinds of income declined. Library purchases dropped, construction and maintenance were interrupted or postponed, salaries were cut, and some academics lost their...

  10. 6 Socialism and Academic Freedom at McGill
    (pp. 128-144)

    ‘I do not think anybody need be alarmed about socialism in this University …’ ¹ Principal Sir Arthur Currie was dictating to his secretary on 26 October 1933. Enjoying the support of English-speaking Montreal, still the wealthiest community in the country, McGill was far from being a hotbed of left-wing activity. If some people nevertheless believed the institution to have fallen prey to socialism, two men were mainly responsible for the misapprehension – Frank Scott and Eugene Forsey.

    By five years the older of the two, Francis Reginald Scott belonged to a prominent Anglo-Quebec family. Appointed in the Faculty of...

  11. 7 The Second World War
    (pp. 145-184)

    War began on 1 September 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland. Pressured by a public opinion that had turned against further appeasement of Adolf Hitler, Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Most Canadians regarded Canada’s entry into the conflict as a foregone conclusion. The War Measures Act came into effect on the first day of September; the Defence of Canada Regulations followed on the third. The country did not formally declare war until another week had passed, but emotionally Canadians (apart from most Québécois) entered the conflict the moment Britain did. And once at war, many...

  12. 8 The Coming of the Cold War
    (pp. 185-219)

    The Cold War came (some would say ‘returned’) to Canada with the defection of Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, in September 1945. Early the following year the federal government established a royal commission to inquire into his disclosures. Consisting of Justices Lindsay Kellock and Robert Taschereau, the commission implicated several people in acts of espionage, among them two professors. Both were tried. Raymond Boyer, a chemist at McGill, was convicted of passing classified information to an agent of a foreign power and was sentenced to two years in prison. The charges against Israel Halperin,...

  13. 9 The Crowe Caws
    (pp. 220-245)

    ‘Giving advice to university heads is not exactly in my line, but I feel rather worked up about the Harry Crowe case in United College.’ Frank Underhill was writing in December 1958 to an old friend, Principal W.A. Mackintosh of Queen’s. Crowe had been dismissed in the summer, and two other historians, Kenneth W. McNaught and J.H. Stewart Reid, had resigned in protest. Could anything be done for them? asked Underhill: ‘No sensible University head is likely to feel like experimenting with men who have been in trouble at other academic institutions, but the treatment of Crowe seems to me...

  14. 10 A Place of Liberty
    (pp. 246-279)

    As the century and millennium lurch towards a close, many people who work in Canadian universities have come to regard the 1960s as a golden age. ‘Age and forgetfulness sweeten memory,’ T.S. Eliot reminds us. Nostalgia deceives. A clear-eyed view of the decade reveals many flaws, not the least obvious being some of the regrettable buildings that went up as prestressed concrete came to surround the older brick and fieldstone. The period was pre-eminently one of growth and optimism, though, and this is what people remember.

    Not everyone welcomed the rapid growth or the secularization of the academy that took...

  15. 11 Freedom and Security: The Matter of Tenure
    (pp. 280-308)

    No other aspect of university life is as misunderstood as tenure. Even the usually clear-eyed John Ralston Saul gets it wrong. Defining it as ‘a system of academic job security which has the effect of rating intellectual leadership on the basis of seniority,’ he asserts that its ‘initial justification … was the need to protect freedom of speech, due to the justifiable fear that controversial professors might suffer at the hands of disapproving financial and governmental interests.’ ¹ This is not so. Tenure long antedates the modern concern with academic free speech. It is rooted in three ancient academic desires:...

  16. 12 Postscript: Academic Freedom since 1965
    (pp. 309-349)

    The professorial mood in 1965 was generally positive. Universities were expanding, salaries were rising, pension plans were improving, sabbaticals were becoming more common, and research support was increasing. Physical comfort increased as air-conditioning became standard in new buildings. By skilfully playing academic musical chairs, some academics were reaching the rank of full professor within ten years of first appointment. Materially and psychologically, academic life was better than it had been for decades.

    For a few years the mood remained upbeat. The publication of the Duff-Berdahl Report on university government seemed to presage an end to autocratic presidents and boards. In...

  17. 13 Conclusion
    (pp. 350-354)

    Academic freedom in Canada has a convoluted history. In the middle of the nineteenth century neither teaching nor scholarship was safe from those who were concerned to protect religious orthodoxy. By the outbreak of the 1914–18 war, teaching and research were generally protected, but free speech outside the classroom remained insecure, and public criticism of one’s institution, its head, or its governing board was very likely to lead to dismissal.

    By engendering an insistence on patriotic conformity, the First World War endangered academic freedom even in the classroom but the return of peace brought a more spacious era, at...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 355-418)
  19. Index
    (pp. 419-446)