Jordan Peterson to appeal Ontario court’s decision on judicial review
Jordan Peterson to appeal Ontario court’s decision on judicial review

Renowned psychologist Jordan Peterson will appeal the Ontario Superior Court’s ruling that he must undergo mandatory social media training in order to keep his licence with the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

The college is forcing Peterson to undergo a social media training course as a punishment for complaints they had received regarding some of Peterson’s social and political commentary online. 

“I’m stunned by the court ruling,” said Peterson in a recent interview with the Toronto Sun. “It’s a funny kind of disappointment, because I’m disappointed more as a citizen of Canada than the personal side.”

Peterson asked for a judicial review of the College of Psychologists’ order that he undergo the training, arguing that it was a violation of his freedom of expression however the court ruled in favour of the college on Wednesday. 

The controversial tweets Peterson made were comments about certain politicians, a plus-sized model and transgender actor Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, which resulted in several people complaining to the college that this amounted to professional misconduct and potential harm to the public. 

None of the complainants themselves were any of the people Peterson was discussing on social media. 

Peterson argued that his personal opinions were out of the purview of the Ontario’s psychologists governing body and that his views and opinions were protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Justice Paul Schabas, who presided over the review, didn’t feel that the mandatory re-education training order was an infringement on Peterson’s rights however, writing that it, “does not prevent Dr. Peterson from expressing himself on issues of interest to him and his audiences; rather, the decision is focused on concerns over his use of degrading or demeaning language.”

The major grey area here is who defines what language to be degrading or demeaning, suggested Peterson. 

“I don’t think that our constitutional guarantee of free of speech in Canada exists, it’s certainly not worth the paper it’s written on,” said Peterson, who believes he is being targeted for political reasons. 

Peterson has said that he plans to fight the order all the way to the Supreme Court if it comes down to that. 

He acknowledged that he is fortunate enough to be in a financial position to continue his fight, despite the high costs. Whereas many other professionals may not be able to fight back against their regulatory bodies, should they be punished for their political beliefs as well.  

He also said that there are other jurisdictions that would grant him a licence to continue practicing psychology if the outcome ultimately does not rule in his favour.

In the meantime, his council released a statement on Peterson’s behalf that discussed the chilling effects the College’s actions will have on professionals across the country who express controversial opinions or unpopular views.

“Professionals do not check their right to free expression at the door. Canadian society benefits from having members of all occupations free to speak their minds without undue regulatory scrutiny. Historically, professionals like lawyers, doctors and psychologists have contributed much to the public debate in this country, even while expressing unpopular views. They should be free to continue to do so, online or elsewhere.” the statement said. 

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