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TORONTO – Anaïs Bussières McNicoll, Director of Fundamental Freedoms at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, made the following statement:

CCLA is troubled by the University of Waterloo’s recent decision to claim 1.5 million dollars in alleged damages from protesters involved in a student protest movement located on the University’s campus.

By claiming stratospheric damages based on extremely vague allegations of “property repairs”, “security upgrades”, and “reputational damage”, the University is attacking, in a manner reminiscent of gag lawsuits, its very own students’ constitutionally protected right to free speech.

It is regrettable that the University chose to use the legal tools at its disposal in such a way.

There is no question that the University must take proportionate and reasonable steps to ensure that the physical safety of people is not endangered on its campus.

However, universities are institutions of higher learning where the free flow of speech, opinions and debate has been and should continue to be encouraged, regardless of the meaning behind an expression or protest.

University campuses should remain accessible spaces where students and communities can come together to take positions on political, social, and educational issues – without fear of reprisal.

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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