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“Don’t Let Yesterday Take Up Too Much Of Today,” Will Rogers

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on September 30, 2018 with No Comments

Why not extend the free speech policy?
This effort of Premier Doug Ford to get the principles of free speech incorporated into the policies of the colleges and universities is a welcome step and perhaps can be embraced across Canada as it will not only protect free speech but would also permit open debate and ensure hate speech and discrimination are not allowed on campuses.
The initiative by Premier Doug Ford comes as a response as several campuses not only in Ontario but also in other provinces have seen incidents in which speakers and even teaching staff have come under fire fr their views and thus leading to controversies. One of the incidences that remained in limelight was that of Lindsay Shepherd, a Wilfrid Laurier University teaching assistant who was reprimanded for airing a clip featuring professor Jordan Peterson, who has refused to use gender-neutral pronouns and has become a hero of the free speech movement. The treatment meted out to Lindsay Shepherd by Wilfrid Laurier University caught attention of Canadians.
Canadians across the country watched with outrage in 2017 at the treatment of 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. There have been other cases too. Students and teaching staff have risked academic punishment and even censure for freely discussing ideas that offend or was presumed to be against the set ideology. All kinds of tricks of the trade have been put to use to disrupt the events- there have been reports of intimidating attendees, false reporting to keep away the audiences and even imposing higher security and events fees.
There should be no doubt, that there is a need to protect open exchanges of ideas since it is so essential for true education in institutes of higher learning. Enforced silence makes student ill informed and if it continues if would mean forcing universities and colleges into a state of intolerance. Hence Premier Doug Ford deserves all praise for taking the step as it would ensure that campuses are safe, for all –students, teachers and including LGBT community too. However, clause of stopping the funding is too stringent and in order to implement free speech the institutions may be forced to stop short cuts and hence could dilute the very requirement of free speech. The priority should be to ensure that students are part of the conversation when it comes to implementing the new policy announced by the Premier.
The positive aspects of the new policy are immense and there is question that the government needs to consider. Why not extent the same to the Ontario government too? Let’s take the schools for instance, the new course curriculum on sex education still not cleared. At the various press conferences there is a ceiling on the number of questions that can be asked. Premier would do a wonder if he can address these issues too and let the free speech be extended to other core areas too.


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