Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday September 8, 2018
Worries, praise follow Ontario government’s new free speech directive
Universities and colleges in Ottawa say they’ll work with the Ontario government to meet next year’s deadline for crafting free speech policies, as campus groups both laud and worry about the new directive.
The province announced last week that schools have until Jan. 1, 2019 to develop, implement and comply with policies that meet a minimum standard the government sets — or risk losing funding.
That standard is based on the University of Chicago Statement of Principles of Free Expression, which doesn’t allow for hate speech but precludes shielding students from ideas they might disagree with or find offensive.
There are fears, however, that the Progressive Conservative government’s new directive could blur the line between free speech and hate speech.
“There’s a limit as to where healthy debate becomes a little bit of an issue. Because as we’ve seen in the past, some of these things have led to students feeling unsafe, students feeling like they were targeted or hated,” said David Oladejo, president of Carleton University Students’ Association.
Oladejo said he welcomes clarification on university free speech policies, as long as they’re not vaguely worded and students don’t feel unsafe on campus.
He said he doesn’t believe there have been any incidents in recent years in which Carleton students have felt threatened by either groups or guest lecturers. (Source: CBC)