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Tillsonburg News - - OPINION - — Post­media Net­work

he news that on­tario premier doug Ford wants uni­ver­si­ties to in­cor­po­rate free speech prin­ci­ples into their poli­cies should be cel­e­brated and em­braced across Canada.

For too many years now, Cana­dian stu­dents and pro­fes­sors have risked aca­demic pu­n­ish­ment, con­dem­na­tion and even cen­sure for freely dis­cussing ideas that of­fend pro­gres­sive ide­ol­ogy.

Fringe ac­tivists in­creas­ingly feel em­bold­ened to shut down events ei­ther by in­tim­i­dat­ing at­ten­dees, pulling the fire alarms or us­ing other dis­rup­tive tac­tics.

school ad­min­is­tra­tors have too of­ten sup­ported ac­tivist de­mands by im­pos­ing out­ra­geous se­cu­rity fees on events that gen­er­ate con­tro­versy or dis­ap­proval. .

Ford’s pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment in on­tario has given the prov­ince’s col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties un­til Jan. 1, 2019, to adopt poli­cies to pro­tect free speech and open de­bate and en­sure hate speech and dis­crim­i­na­tion are not al­lowed on cam­puses. it’s a long over­due pol­icy. Cana­di­ans across the coun­try watched with ou­trage in 2017 at the treat­ment of lind­say shep­herd by Wil­frid lau­rier univer­sity.

shep­herd was re­duced to tears by her pro­fes­sors and the univer­sity’s di­ver­sity and equity of­fi­cer for dar­ing to show a short tele­vi­sion clip of univer­sity of toronto pro­fes­sor Jor­dan peter­son de­bat­ing gen­der pro­nouns. the au­dio record­ing of shep­herd’s dis­ci­plinary meet­ing was Kafkaesque.

“While im­per­fect, the (on­tario gov­ern­ment’s) plan is a wel­come de­par­ture from the deaf­en­ing si­lence of all provin­cial gov­ern­ments, of all stripes, about the sad state of free speech at Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties,” wrote John Car­pay, pres­i­dent of the Jus­tice Cen­tre for Con­sti­tu­tional Free­doms, re­cently in the na­tional post.

Ford’s plan is based in part on the univer­sity of Chicago’s “state­ment on prin­ci­ples of Free ex­pres­sion,” adopted in 2015 to en­sure their school both fear­lessly pro­tected free speech, de­bate and in­quiry — in­clud­ing ideas that may be of­fen­sive to some — and re­jected ha­tred, racism and vi­o­lence.

the Chicago prin­ci­ples could serve as a model to en­sure Cana­dian schools to ac­tual in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing.

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