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On June 4, 2024, Anaïs Bussières McNicoll, Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program and Interim Director of the Privacy, Technology and Surveillance Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, made the following statement:

The CCLA is pleased to report that it was just granted intervener status by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the University of Toronto’s injunction proceeding seeking the dismantlement of the student protest encampment located on its campus.

One does not have to take a position on the content of an expression or protest to recognize the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly in our democracy. Open discussion and our individual and collective ability to question and criticize what is going on in society have been repeatedly recognized by our courts as the very lifeblood of our democracy.

That is even more the case in the context of universities. University campuses are accessible spaces where students and communities come together to exchange ideas, debate, and take positions on political, social, and educational issues. In the past, student activism has been instrumental in securing rights related to various issues, from lower tuition fees to climate change. It is crucial that universities continue playing this important societal role so that students can have critical discussions and express dissenting views freely. In the absence of a pressing and substantive reason – for instance in case of threats to the physical safety of individuals or incitement to imminent violence – freedom of speech and freedom to peacefully protest should not be limited.

By intervening in the University of Toronto’s injunction proceeding, the CCLA is not endorsing nor condemning the content of the expression and protest at issue but will rather assist the Court in seeking an appropriate reconciliation of the rights and public interests at stake.

The CCLA is thankful for the excellent pro bono representation of Tim Gleason and Amani Rauff from Dewart Gleason LLP in this matter.

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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