Canadian officials are the latest to take a stance against cancel culture, which they say originates from the United States. Premier Francois Legault of Quebec has joined France and the United Kingdom to issue statements against progressive activists who currently dominate academia.
In a Facebook statement on Saturday, Legault wrote: “We've been hearing a lot about academic freedom and freedom of expression these days. I am thinking in particular of the history of the University of Ottawa that has shocked quite a few people, myself understood.”
“A handful of radical activists can be seen trying to censor some words and works. We see a movement coming from the United States and frankly, I don't think it's like us,” he said. “What's really disturbing is that more and more people are feeling intimidated. They feel forced to self-censure, lest they get insulted and expose in the public square.”
Legault said that efforts to cancel authors and professors who do not abide by the progressive ideology are “going too far” and described the situation as “slipping.”
“While it can be healthy to question certain conceptions or behaviours and to avoid shock or injury, we must not sacrifice our freedom of expression,” he said. “Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of our democracy. If we start compromising on this, we risk seeing the same censorship overflow in our media, in our political debates. We won't mean anything anymore. No one will dare to talk about immigration, for example, if every time we talk about this, we get screamed nonsense. Nobody wants that. Not me, anyway.”
To combat the woke crusade in academia and society at large, Legault has appointed Minister of Higher Education Danielle McCann to respond to the erosion of Quebec’s academic culture.
Legault’s comments echo those made by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has stated that “certain social science theories, entirely imported from the United States” pose a threat to France’s national identity. France’s national education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said that “there's a battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities.'
British education secretary Gavin Williamson, a Boris Johnson appointee, likewise appointed a “Free Speech Champion” to sanction universities that fail to uphold the classical liberal value of freedom of expression.