Who pays the price for free expression?
The award-winning Visionary Conversations speaker series gets underway tonight with a thought-provoking discussion on Free Expression – Who Pays the Price? UM Today caught up with our expert panelists this week and asked them, “Why is freedom of expression important to talk about?”
Here are their answers:
Dr. David Barnard – President and Vice-Chancellor
“Most of us think quite differently about many important aspects of our personal and community life than did our ancestors 100 years ago – politics, religion, science, the arts have been changed for us. Freedom of expression is required if we are to learn and develop as individuals and as communities sharing a planet. In universities, academic freedom is necessary to pursue ideas and challenge orthodoxies. Failure to talk about freedoms may lead to a diminution of them.”
Sarah Lugtig – Director of Clinical Education, Faculty of Law
“The freedom to express oneself openly and fully is of crucial importance in a free and democratic society. It encourages and supports us to seek and find the truth and to participate in social and political decision-making. It creates a welcoming and open environment for individual self-fulfillment and human flourishing. In practice, however, what we communicate may interfere with those very aims or with other important values in a democracy. Finding the right balance is a challenge affecting all Canadians…so let’s get talking!”
Cecil Rosner – Managing Editor, CBC Manitoba
“It’s an important freedom for individuals to have, but it’s also especially crucial for the media – because most people rely on media for their source of information about local and world events. How do the media find anything out? They can go into the world and investigate, and they can also listen to those who know what is going on in the corridors of government, corporations and other powerful institutions. Sometimes those sources of information feel compelled to speak out. But whistleblowers in our society are paying too heavy a price for alerting the public to urgent truths. They are getting disciplined, fired, and in some cases sent to jail. And journalists who print and broadcast the information brought to them by whistleblowers are also in jeopardy. How we encourage whistleblowers, and how we equip the media to protect them and ensure their messages get through, are crucial issues for the preservation of effective freedom of expression in Canada.”
Join us tonight at 6:30 p.m. for a reception, with the panel discussion beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Robert B. Schultz Theatre, 92 Dysart Road, St. John’s College, Fort Garry Campus, University of Manitoba.