The latest instalment of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Great Canadian Debates series took place on March 27 at the Canadian War Museum in front of a large and engaged audience. The resolution, “Free speech in Canadian universities is an endangered species”, was debated by National Post columnist Barbara Kay and York University professor Daniel Drache. Click here for video of the debate, now available on CPAC’s website.
Kay, arguing for the resolution, asserted that political correctness has taken over on campus, and that we are seeing “common Marxism-derived practice to suppress ‘offensive’ discourse through speech codes, forced sensitivity training or worse”.
Drache, arguing against the resolution, said that “there have always been challenges to free speech on campus, but the difficulties of a few right-wing student groups and outside commentators that have caused such a media storm in recent years don’t really rank among them”. Op-eds based on their opening remarks appeared in the National Post’s opinion pages and the debate continued in the Post’s letters page.
During the debate, the debaters fielded a variety of questions from the audience. The audience was also surveyed on the resolution by moderator Peter Milliken, former Speaker of the House of Commons. A show of hands before and after the debate showed majority support for the resolution, but a few audience members moved their support to Drache’s side.