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A governing body for psychologists in Canada ordered Dr. Jordan Peterson to undergo re-education training after complete strangers took issue with views he had expressed online.
He fought back, but a Canadian court just upheld the regulator's order.
What's the background?
Peterson was previously in good standing with the College of Psychologists of Ontario and had no public record of any complaints. However, he made the mistake of angering strangers online with opinions at odds with leftist speech codes and dogmas.
TheBlaze previously reported that individuals whom Peterson indicated were neither clients nor familiar with his clients complained to the CPO, which then launched an investigation into the cultural commentator.
The CPO's inquiries, complaints, and reports committee concluded in November 2022 that the doctor's comments were "degrading, demeaning and unprofessional," adding that his conduct "poses moderate risks to the public" and runs the risk of "undermining public trust in the profession of psychology, and trust in the college's ability to regulate the profession in the public interest."
Peterson's offending speech included:
- criticism of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Trudeau's former chief of staff, Gerald Butts, who resigned amid the liberal leader's disgraceful and damning SNC Lavalin scandal;
- a suggestion that the doctor who cut off actress Elliot Page's healthy breasts was a "criminal physician"; and
- a retweet of a comment made by the leader of Canada's official opposition party regarding the unnecessary severity of COVID lockdowns.
Peterson refused to undergo the regulatory board's equivalent of a Maoist struggle session or admit fault over his lawful speech.
Not long after being presented with the order from the CPO committee, Peterson penned an article in the National Post, stating, "I’m not complying. I’m not submitting to re-education. I am not admitting that my viewpoints — many of which have, by the way, been entirely justified by the facts that have emerged since the complaints were levied — were either wrong or unprofessional."
"I have done nothing to compromise those in my care; quite the contrary — I have served all my clients and the millions of people I am communicating with to the best of my ability and in good faith, and that’s that," he added.
Instead of bending the knee, he took the CPO to court, stressing that its order ran afoul of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Free only to say the right things
The Ontario Divisional Court ruled against Peterson Wednesday, concluding the CPO committee's ruling "is not disciplinary and does not prevent Dr. Peterson from expressing himself on controversial topics; it has a minimal impact on his right to freedom of expression."
The suggestion that the ruling has a "minimal impact" on Peterson's right to speak his mind appears to gloss over the fact that he now stands to lose his hard-earned license to practice clinical psychology unless he caves to the ideological parameters set by regulators.
Although he hasn't practiced in recent years, Peterson stressed earlier this year, "I deserve [my license]. I earned it. I haven't done anything to justify suspending it, and I don't want to give the hyenas their bones."
Per the ruling obtained by Canadian state media, Peterson must also pay his censors $25,000.
The panel of superior court judges — Paul Schabas, Nancy Backhouse, and John Krawchenko — appeared to agree both that Peterson's free speech was subordinate to the sensitivities of the CPO committee and those strangers filing complaints from afar and that the CPO committee had "reasonably" concluded that "Dr. Peterson's behavior raised a moderate risk of harm to the public."
Schabas simultaneously held that Peterson and other professionals "do not lose their Charter right to freedom of expression" upon joining a regulated profession, yet noted they "take on obligations and must abide by the rules of their regulatory body that may limit their freedom of expression."
The judge further claimed that it didn't matter whether "Dr. Peterson's comments were supported by facts or were his honest opinion, as the concern arises from the nature of the language used, not the validity of his opinions."
According to the court, facts lawfully stated by Canadian professionals in a manner undesirable to the powers that be may therefore be grounds for disenfranchisement.
The ruling also indicates that Peterson's tweets don't count as "personal comments" but are "public statements," meaning they fall under the CPO's purview; the suggestion being that only private, undocumented conversations are beyond the committee's regulation.
Peterson responded to the ruling on Twitter, writing, "If you think that you have a right to free speech in Canada you're delusional. I will make every aspect of this public[.] ... Bring it."
He noted earlier in the week, "I stand by what I have said and done and wish them luck in their continued prosecution. They're going to need it. I tweeted and otherwise expressed my opposition to trans surgery butchery, Justin Trudeau and his minions, and the lying climate apocalypse-mongers. All that's looking pretty good from my end. And if I can't express such opinions in Canada, I will let the world know."
Jonah Arnold of the Association of Aggrieved Regulated Professionals of Ontario, a non-profit advocacy group that represents health care workers and other professionals who have experienced mistreatment by their regulators, told TheBlaze last month that this outcome would "affect the fundamental rights of about 400,000 professionals from all 29 regulated health professions in Ontario" and "could even affect other professionals including teachers, accountants, and lawyers."
Arnold made clear in advance that were this decision ultimately made, regulators in Ontario and across Canada would be emboldened "to expand and overstep their regulatory authority and intrude into their registrants' personal lives."
The chilling effect would be such that those entering professions in the province "will have no choice but to stay silent, contrary to their Charter rights," said Arnold.
Extra to damning professionals to a muted existence, the precedent set by Schabas, Backhouse, and Krawchenko, allowing for the policing of a health care professionals' opinions unrelated to their practice, might also preclude people from entering the field.
This would be especially troubling, suggested Arnold, in light of the health care worker shortage already affecting Ontario and the rest of the country.
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.