In March 2021, following polarizing events and dissension within the university community regarding the nature - and limits - of academic freedom, and given the underlying responsibility of the University of Ottawa as an academic and research institution, the University announced the creation of a committee chaired by former Supreme Court Justice, the Honourable Michel Bastarache (CC, QC) with the mandate to examine the question independently.

On February 14, 2022, the Senate adopted a new resolution to create an Ad Hoc Committee to Implement the Recommendations in the Report on the Committee on Academic Freedom. The Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee has since tabled its report (PDF, 154 KB) and the Senate statement affirming the importance of freedom of expression in a university setting

In 2022–2023, the University established the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom. The work of this standing committee led to the creation of an information page for the University community: Freedom of expression and academic freedom in the classroom.

Chair of the committee

The Honourable Michel Bastarache, C.C., QC
Mr. Justice Bastarache, B.A., LL.L., LL.B., D.E.S. received eight honorary degrees. He was called to the Bar in six provinces. He worked for the New Brunswick and federal governments. He was Vice-President and Director of Marketing at Assumption Life, later President and Chief Executive Officer of Assumption Life and its subsidiaries. He was law professor and Dean at the University of Moncton Law School and Associate Dean, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa. He practised law in Ottawa and in Moncton. Mr Bastarache was appointed to the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick in 1995 and the Supreme Court of Canada in 1997. Mr Justice Bastarache retired from the court in 2008 and practices law under his own name. Mr Bastarache was a member of the Interim Constitutional Court of Kenya. He was also Commissioner for La Commission d’enquête sur la nomination des juges au Québec. He was the Independant conciliator for the indemnification of victims of sexual abuse for the dioceses of Bathurst and Moncton. He is now the Independent conciliator for the indemnification of the female members of the RCMP victims of sexual harassment. He is vice president of the Administrative Tribunal of the Association of American States in Washington. He is editor and principal author of three books and was awarded a dozen awards, especially Companion of the Order of Canada and Officier de la Légion d’honneur.

The Honourable Michel Bastarache, C.C., QC 
  • Tansy Etro-Beko, Part-time Professor, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts;
  • Jude Mary Cénat, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences;
  • Dr. Alireza Jalali, Associate Dean, External Relations, Engagement and Advancement, Faculty of Medicine;
  • Jonathan Paquette, Professor and holder of the research chair on the international Francophonie and cultural heritage policies, Faculty of Social Sciences;
  • Sophie Thériault, Vice Dean (Academics) and Full Professor, Faculty of Law, Civil Law


The committee’s mandate is to independently review the following subjects with a view to issuing recommendations:

  • The issues at stake, including those involving academic freedom, including freedom of expression, the institutional autonomy of universities, equity, diversity, inclusion, and the pursuit of true equality along with the inherent legal aspects of these issues;
  • The challenges that these issues present for the University of Ottawa, a bilingual university, in fulfilling its mission of teaching, conducting research, and serving the community;
  • The lessons learned from similar incidents that have occurred at the University of Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada; and
  • The best approaches and mechanisms to be used by members of the administration and University community for reconciling the issues at stake and in such situations as they arise.