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University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario by Ken Lund

Abandoning Institutional Neutrality: Why the University of Windsor Encampment Agreements Constrain Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression

The University of Windsor’s agreements with encampment protesters and a student group have rightly raised concerns about antisemitism given their double standard treatment of Israeli institutions and impact on academic freedoms. While much of the initial emphasis has focused on the ill-advised decision to effectively establish a ban on agreements with Israeli institutions and establish conditions not required for any other country, there is another aspect that deserves attention since it undermines the university’s position as a neutral forum for discussion, debate and learning. In light of the diversity of views on campus and the desire for mutually respectful dialogue and engagement, many universities have tried to remain neutral on matters of sensitive politics post-October 7th. But by committing to engage in political advocacy, including issuing a political letter to the governments, lobbying other universities, and releasing a highly charged public statement, Windsor has abandoned the widely accepted fundamental principle of institutional neutrality, thereby constraining academic freedom and freedom of expression on campus.

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July 18, 2024 1 comment News
Newseum: Do You Trust Blogs? by Rogers Cadenhead CC BY-SA 2.0

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 209: Peter Menzies on Why the Canadian News Sector is Broken and How to Fix It

It isn’t news that the Canadian news sector is broken: the Online News Act has caused more harm the good, the dependence on government funding and regulation has grown dramatically and undermined public trust, and implementing Bill C-18 has become mired in controversy. Peter Menzies spent three decades as a working journalist and newspaper executive, most notably with the Calgary Herald where he served as its editorial page editor, editor in chief and, finally, publisher. He then spent another 10 years at the CRTC, including four as Vice Chair of Telecommunications. Peter been one of the most prominent voices on the state of the news sector in Canada and he joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss recent developments alongside proposed reforms that might do a better job of addressing mounting concerns over the independence of the press.

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July 15, 2024 2 comments Podcasts
University_of_Windsor,_Windsor,_Ontario_(21584825960) by Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Why the University of Windsor Encampment Agreement Violates Antisemitism and Academic Freedom Standards

The University of Windsor this week reached agreement with protesters in a campus encampment that raises serious concerns of antisemitism and infringement on academic freedom. While most universities across Canada were relying on the University of Toronto court ruling that the encampments were unlawful trespass to clear their encampments, the University of Windsor instead reached agreement that has sparked alarm among many groups. Indeed, given evidence at the House of Common Justice committee of harassment, antisemitism, and hate speech on the Windsor campus, it is astonishing that the university has ignored those threats and instead concluded a discriminatory agreement that fuels fears that Jews are no longer welcome on campus.

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July 12, 2024 2 comments News
Tax Day New York. April 17, 2012 (7104232285) by Michael Fleshman from Brooklyn, The Democratic People's Republic of Brooklyn, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Know When to Fold Em: The Big Risk Behind Canada’s Digital Services Tax Bet

The Globe and Mail runs my opinion piece on Canada’s digital services tax today. I open by noting that the Canadian government’s efforts to regulate big tech companies sometimes feels like a series of high-stakes poker matches in which the government foolishly bets that readily apparent risks can be ignored. That approach has proven costly: the plan to regulate internet streaming services is now mired in multiple legal challenges in court, while news links on Facebook and Instagram have been blocked in Canada for nearly a year in response to the Online News Act.

The latest high-risk strategy involves the implementation of a digital services tax, which could lead to billions in tariff retaliation targeting some of Canada’s most important economic sectors.

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July 11, 2024 7 comments Columns
Stop antisemitism by Adam Fagen CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

States of Disbelief: Too Many Don’t Believe Rise of Antisemitism as the Jewish Community Can’t Believe What It is Seeing

The Globe and Mail published my op-ed yesterday on antisemitism and what I think are two states of disbelief: the disbelief among far too many in Canada that rising antisemitism is real, alongside the disbelief by many within the Jewish community that antisemitism has returned in a manner unseen since the Holocaust. An open access version follows:

Leo Frank, a U.S. factory superintendent, was convicted of murder in 1913 and subsequently lynched in a case widely viewed as a miscarriage of justice motivated by antisemitism. His case sparked the creation of the Anti-Defamation League, which was founded to combat antisemitism, bigotry and discrimination. Despite more than a century of leadership on the issue, last month an overwhelming majority of Wikipedia editors concluded that the ADL is no longer a reliable source on antisemitism. Attempts to paint Jews and Jewish institutions as untrustworthy and not to be believed date back millenniums, and the re-emergence of this pattern is one of the most frightening elements of the rising tide of antisemitism.

The disbelief is seemingly everywhere: evidence of Jewish women sexually assaulted during the Oct. 7 massacres is repeatedly doubted, while shootings at schools and vandalism at synagogues and Jewish community centres have been dismissed by some as false flags. Indeed, virtually anyone actively calling out antisemitism on social media is by now accustomed to the obscene flurry of replies that at best question the veracity of the reports and at worst traffic in Nazi-style propaganda.

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July 9, 2024 17 comments Columns