Poilievre Will Require Universities Uphold Academic Freedom and Free Speech to Get Federal Grants

“I will name a former Judge as Free Speech Guardian to protect Charter Rights on campus”

Ottawa, ON - Today, candidate for Prime Minister and MP Pierre Poilievre announced his plan to protect academic freedom and free speech from campus gatekeepers. 

Universities are supposed to be places where ideas are openly discussed and challenged, but they have become places where gatekeepers and a loud minority silence students and faculty. The Trudeau Liberals have done nothing to protect the rights of students and faculty to speak freely. Their obsession with woke culture has allowed campus to change from a place where people learn through discussion and debate, to a place where popular professors, like Dr. Jordan Peterson, must resign and student groups must cancel events or even lose resources, just because of their different viewpoint.

“We see new examples of people deplatformed, students silenced, and professors attacked,” said Poilievre. “As Prime Minister I will champion our charter rights to academic freedom.”

Poilievre outlined the plan he would implement to protect free speech on campus as Prime Minister: As a condition of receiving direct federal research and other grants, universities will have to commit to uphold section 2 of the Charter:

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

To get federal grants, universities will be required to not only promote section 2 Charter freedoms on campus, but also defend them when they are attacked, including by other students and faculty.

Poilievre’s approach will protect a culture of free and open speech, debate, and research. This includes speech that members of the university and the public may find disagreeable and offensive, so long as it does not rise to the level of hate speech that the Supreme Court of Canada has held may be lawfully restricted under section 2(b).

Poilievre will appoint a Free Speech Guardian—a former judge who will report on compliance by universities and will investigate claims of academic censorship. He or she will enforce the requirement by reporting to the federal government on breaches of the universities’ undertakings and recommending reductions in direct federal grants to specific universities that fail to protect free speech and academic freedom. No federal-provincial transfers will be affected by this policy.

“The gatekeepers and the thought police have attacked academic freedom on campus. They can no longer get taxpayer’s money to do it. I will protect free thought, so students and faculty can learn and teach in peace,” said Poilievre. “Let’s give Canadians back control of their lives and make Canada the freest country on earth.”

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