Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New premier bids to tie Ontario university funding to free speech

Doug Ford wants to expand mandate of province’s higher education regulator

Universities in Ontario could be the next higher education institutions to face punishment if they are deemed to fail to uphold free speech, after populist businessman Doug Ford was elected as premier of the Canadian province.

The centre-right Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, led by Mr Ford, won the Ontario general election earlier this month after securing 40.5 per cent of the vote, ending 15 years of power for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Mr Ford’s main pledge concerning higher education, which is a provincial responsibility in Canada, was to expand the mandate of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) to include a complaints and investigations process to evaluate violations of free speech.

Mr Ford’s party said that “postsecondary funding decisions will be tied to the results of the HEQCO’s investigations and, thereby, the willingness of university administrators to protect free speech for all students and faculty”.

However, Mr Ford, whose late brother Rob Ford was the controversial mayor of Toronto from 2010 to 2014, did not provide details on what he defined as a free speech violation. 

Several Canadian universities have been embroiled in free speech controversies in recent years. Earlier this year, Wilfrid Laurier University, one of Ontario’s 22 public universities, came under fire after reprimanding a teaching assistant for showing a video clip of a debate on gender-neutral pronouns, even though no formal or informal complaint had been filed.

If Mr Ford’s policy is implemented, institutions in Canada’s most populous province – also including the University of Toronto and McMaster University – could face similar scrutiny over free speech to their counterparts in the UK and US.


1 comment:

Bird of Paradise said...

The trouble with Liberals they think the U.S. Constitution means they have the right to walk naked down Main Street with their hair dyed pink but we dont have the right to Keep and bear arms