Union says Quebec prof’s suspension for anti vax comments violates academic freedom

The suspension of a Université Laval professor for comments he made criticizing COVID-19 vaccines is raising concerns about academic freedom in the province.

Patrick Provost, a professor in the university’s department of microbiology and immunology, says he was suspended for eight weeks without pay earlier this month for comments he made last December.

READ MORE: Quebec tables bill on academic freedom, says no words off limits in classrooms

Provost says he thinks the risks of COVID-19 vaccination for children outweigh the benefits.

The Université Laval faculty union says it has filed a grievance over the suspension, adding that it worries the university’s actions could have a chilling effect on other professors who share controversial views.

READ MORE: What causes long COVID? Canadian researchers think they’ve found a key clue

David Robinson, the executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, says professors should be disciplined only for comments that amount to incompetence or that violate legal limits to speech, such as libel laws.

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Quebec Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann says Provost’s suspension is an example that justifies the government’s decision to adopt a bill earlier this month protecting academic freedom.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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