The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) just released the report of an investigation into the controversial resignation of Dr. Andrew Potter from the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC).
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, with speculation that he was forced out.
Our investigation, led by Dr. Mark Gabbert of the University of Manitoba, 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 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. 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 report, prepared for CAUT’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, is calling on the University to develop policy to give full protection of academic freedom to academic administrators.
If the University fails to do so, it is recommended that CAUT invoke censure proceedings against McGill.
CAUT Executive Director