The new minister for higher education, Pascale Déry, has warned university directors: Quebec expects them to fight censorship and stop excluding candidates to favor others from minorities.
The letter, sent yesterday to heads of academic institutions, aims to provide “clarification” after several controversies have rocked campus in recent months.
Recently, British law professor Robert Wintemute’s lecture at McGill University was canceled because students spoke out against his views as transphobic.
Laval University also found itself in controversy after white males were excluded from the hiring process for research positions for violating the federal criteria for equity, diversity and inclusion of Canada’s research chairs.
“Under no circumstances should we tolerate censorship in academic circles. Censorship inhibits thinking, and anxious thinking hinders the pursuit of excellence central to academic mission. We cannot sacrifice academic freedom in the name of particular struggles at the risk of ending up losing both,” Minister Déry wrote.
She goes on to add that criteria aimed at greater diversity and inclusion should not lead to “any form of discrimination or injustice”.
“However, the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) requirements of Canada’s research chair programs set by the federal government tend to limit certain rights and lower the primacy of the notions of competence and excellence,” laments the minister.
Pascal Déry explains that he has also asked Quebec’s Chief Scientist to revise their scoring grid for the allocation of Quebec Research Funds so that the EDI criteria are no longer dominant but complementary.
Here is the letter the minister sent to the university directors:
More details to come…