No freedom of expression on campus? No federal funding, Poilievre pledges
Conservative Party leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre said as premier he would appoint a ‘free speech guardian’ to protect Charter rights on campuses and revoke federal funding for colleges. post-secondary institutions that do not respect freedom of expression.
“Universities are meant to be places where ideas are openly discussed and challenged, but they have become places where gatekeepers and a strong minority silence students and faculty,” a Poilievre campaign statement said.
“The Trudeau Liberals did nothing to protect the rights of students and professors to speak freely. Their obsession with woke culture has moved the campus from a place where people learn through discussion and debate to a place where popular professors, like Dr. Jordan Peterson, have to quit and groups of students have to cancel. events or even lose resources, just because of their different point of view.
Poilievre’s plan would ensure that maintaining section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedomswhich lists the fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, expression, and conscience, among others, a “requisite for receiving direct federal research and other grants.”
“To obtain federal grants, universities will need to not only promote Section 2 Charter freedoms on campus, but also defend them when attacked, including by other students and faculty,” the report says. campaign statement.
The idea of tying free speech support to federal funding is not new. Former Conservative leaders Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole offered similar approaches, though O’Toole backed down in the general election.
Poilievre’s plan goes further than previous Conservative campaign platforms by promising to appoint a “guardian of free speech – a former judge who will report on university compliance and investigate allegations of academic censorship.” .
The proposed tutor will report to the federal government on violations of Charter rights on campus and recommend corresponding reductions in federal grants.
The policy will not affect federal transfers to provincial governments, which provide most of their funding to public universities and colleges.
Despite their public status, Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies on university and college campuses is highly dependent on individual cases.
In January 2020, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that a pro-life group at the University of Alberta had a Charter-guaranteed right to protest abortion on campus, although this decision is not binding in other provinces.