Conservatives make free speech a must for university grants

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If the Conservatives come into power, research grants to Canadian post-secondary institutions that bar racist, anti-LGBTQ or other speakers from their campuses could be in jeopardy under a Conservative government.
The party unveiled part of its platform pledge to “promote free speech on campus.”

Under a Conservative government, post-secondary institutions will have to have “an expressed commitment to free speech and academic freedom” in order to receive federal research support grants, such as those from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) or the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERCC).

Between 2012 and 2018, SSHRCC distributed over $2.6 billion in funding investments to universities. This comes in the form of project and talent-based grants for both faculty and students.

The policy comes as events featuring controversial speakers including Jordan Peterson, Lindsay Shepherd and Meghan Murphy have been protested or cancelled at Canadian universities in recent years.

The metrics for measuring a campus’s commitment to free speech are not yet decided, but Scheer says the Tories would consult on the issue.

At the platform launch, Scheer wouldn’t commit directly to the controversial “Chicago principles”, already adopted by the Jason Kenney and Doug Ford governments in Alberta and Ontario. The term refers to a policy statement published by the University of Chicago in 2015 to affirm the school’s commitment to free expression, developed after blowback from several controversial speakers at the campus.

The principles attracted public attention in 2016, when the University of Chicago’s dean of students wrote a letter to the incoming class, claiming the school’s views on freedom of expression mean they don’t support “trigger warnings” or “intellectual safe spaces.” -CINEWS

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