The Ontario government is requiring the province’s publicly funded colleges and universities to develop a public free speech policy that adheres to the Chicago Principles by January 1, 2019. Institutions that fail to meet this requirement may suffer funding cuts.
The move fulfills a promise that Ontario premier Doug Ford—a conservative who is often compared to President Donald Trump—made during the provincial election earlier this year. In that election, Ford promised to ensure that free speech was protected in educational institutions across the province, following several conservatives being disinvited from or harassed at speaking events on Ontario campuses in the past decade.
The University adopted the Chicago Principles, formally titled the University of Chicago Statement of Principles of Free Expression, in 2014, following a report issued by a committee chaired by Law School professor Geoffrey Stone. The Chicago Principles were soon adopted by other universities, most notably Purdue and Princeton.
However, the move would be the largest-scale application of the Chicago Principles so far—Ontario is Canada’s most populous province, with a population of 13.6 million according to a 2014 census. Early last year, California’s legislature passed a bill urging the state’s universities to draft free speech policies in line with the Chicago principles, but the resolution was nonbinding.