Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson will have to undergo social media ‘sensitivity training’ if he wants to continue working as a psychologist.
This follows complaints from political activists about his outspokenness and public criticism of postmodern cultural Marxism.
Peterson’s response is that he will take the training – and broadcast it online.
It was last November that the regulatory body, the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPC), ordered Professor Peterson to undergo a special “coaching program” on professionalism and ethics in public speaking and online. If he refused, he risked losing his psychology license.
This followed complaints from left-wing activists about critical comments he had made about politicians, a severely overweight model, and transsexual actor Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page).
The board’s complaints committee argued that Peterson’s comments could be considered “misconduct” and forced him to pay for and complete a special media training program if he wanted to remain a professional psychologist.
Peterson then sought judicial review, arguing that his political commentary and analysis were outside the scope of the CPC.
Now, three judges of the Ontario Divisional Court have unanimously rejected Peterson’s application. They say his freedom of expression has not been abridged, and that the CPC has every right to require this kind of “re-education” program.
So the Ontario Court of Appral ruled that @CPOntario can pursue their prosecution
If you think that you have a right to free speech in Canada
I will make every aspect of this public
And we will see what happens when utter transparency is the rule
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) August 23, 2023
“The order 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”, said the decision, written by Judge Paul Schabas.
“Dr. Peterson sees himself functioning as a clinical psychologist ‘in the broad public space’ where he claims to be helping ‘millions of people’. Peterson cannot have it both ways: he cannot speak as a member of a regulated profession without taking responsibility for the risk of harm that flows from him speaking in that trusted capacity”, it continues.
Jordan Peterson himself says he has no regrets – but that he will take the training and broadcast it on social media.
– I’ll comply with their regulations, but I’m not going to do it in secret… And the reason I’m not going to do it in secret is because I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong.
“The fundamental issue is one of free discourse. I like to think and we think by talking in large part. And so I’m not willing to suspend my tongue as a consequence of government decree”, he has previously commented on the requirement to take the ‘values course’.
Support from civil liberties groups
Peterson also points out that he no longer treats patients, and that his professional career is effectively focused on social commentary and lecturing – but he has no plans to give up his license.
– I deserve it. I earned it. I haven’t done anything to justify suspending it, and I don’t want to give the hyenas their bones.
In a statement released after the decision, the CPC says it is committed to fulfilling its mandate to “protect the public interest” by regulating the practice of psychology.
“The College will review today’s decision and undertake next steps in accordance with our mandate and any appropriate legal processes”, the statement said.
The psychology professor has received strong support from the public and from free speech and civil liberties groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which argues that regulators should not monitor speech that is not directly related to people’s professional practice.
– Freedom of expression is a right that no individual gives up just because they join a regulated profession, said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, its president.