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Constitutional Forum 29:2 (2020)


The provincial governments in Ontario and Alberta have directed colleges and universities to adopt and comply with a mandatory, state-prescribed free speech policy modelled on the US-based Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Speech. Compelling a campus free speech code is as serious a violation of s.2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a prohibition would be. Apart from and in addition to their consequences for university governance and autonomy, these mandatory free speech policies are part of a rise in mechanisms – like Bill 21’s compelled secularity, Ontario’s mandatory gas pump stickers, the Law Society of Ontario’s mandatory Statement of Principles (now repealed), among others – that compel members of a community to observe and adopt state-based ideological, religious, political, and partisan positions. These forms of compelled expression and association undermine Big M’s definition of freedom as the absence of coercion or constraint, and must be met by a robust conception of freedom from compulsion under s.2 of the Charter.