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Ontario protects free speech on campuses

19 September 2018 at 17:07 | 846 views

Ontario Premier Doug Ford commented on free speech in the province’s colleges and universities recently:

"Colleges and universities should be places where students exchange different ideas and opinions in open and respectful debate," said Ford.

"Our government made a commitment to the people of Ontario to protect free speech on campuses. Promise made, promise kept."

Colleges and universities will have until January 1, 2019 to develop, implement and comply with a free speech policy that meets a minimum standard prescribed by the government and based on best practices from around the world. The policy will not only protect free speech but ensure that hate speech, discrimination and other illegal forms of speech are not allowed on campus.

To monitor compliance, colleges and universities must report annually on their progress to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) starting in September 2019. Colleges and universities that do not comply with the free speech requirements may be subject to a reduction in operating grant funding. Students whose actions are contrary to the free speech policy are subject to existing campus student discipline measures. Any complaint against the institution that remains unresolved may be referred to the Ontario Ombudsman.

"Open debate and exchange of ideas are central to university and college education. Today’s announcement will help protect free speech and foster learning environments that encourage freedom of thought, by making sure that all universities and colleges have a strong, clear and consistent free speech policy. We look forward to working with Ontario’s universities and colleges to protect and promote free speech," said Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

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