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Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party held the promise they made during their election campaign namely to tie public funding to free speech. That means that all publicly funded universities and colleges should create their own free speech policy using University of Chicago’s policy as a model. Student organisations and staff members have to conform as well. Failure of compliance will result in a reduction to the universities’ operating grant funding. The higher education institutions have a few months until the end of the year to comply with this law that obliges them to meet the minimum standard which includes their own definition of freedom of speech. Moreover they should also have principles based on the University of Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expression that states the following:
Other principles that should be part of the free speech policy are the following:
Although aiming at promoting freedom of speech and expression on campus, this freedom is not limitless after all. Canadian law on hate speech is above any speech related policy. That is, one may express his or her views but shall not advocate genocide, publicly incite hate or promote hate. This may look like a shift from the American University of Chicago’s model that they want to emulate. In the states, the law allows one to express any ideas they have regardless of how offensive it may be to others the only intervention made is if that speech actually calls for violence. However, University of Chicago’s policy also states it should be compliant with the law. The only difference then being that the laws regarding freedom of speech and hate speech are different in the US. In this regard, the Canadian policies on freedom of speech on campuses is similar to the UK. UK's free speech law states that:
“Everyone has the right to free speech within the law. Unless it is unlawful, speech should
usually be allowed. Free speech within the law should mean just that. This can include
the right to say things which, though lawful, others may find disturbing or upsetting.”
The policy on freedom of speech should not be regarded as a mean to over-regulate the already existing norms i.e. the speech shall not advocate for hate and violence. It is a common understanding and a universally-shared principle. Such policies are mere a right given to students. It aims at recalling people at universities that they are free to express their opinions. This however shall be done in a fair manner to others and within the legal framework.