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The CCLA spoke before Ontario’s Divisional Court on June 21, 2023 to address overreach by professional regulators into the realm of free expression. CCLA intervened in an application for judicial review where a regulated professional (a psychologist) was required to undergo a continuing education and remedial program based on tweets as well as comments made when being interviewed for a podcast. The psychologist does not maintain an active practice and his comments were largely unrelated to his profession.  

The figure at the centre of the case, Dr. Jordan Peterson, is a highly controversial figure and often uses social media to express his views, many of which are offensive, particularly to certain minority communities. While the CCLA disagrees strongly with the views of Dr. Peterson, his case highlights the broad scope and discretion that professional regulators have to chill or silence expression that is unpopular. Requiring an individual to undergo a remedial “coaching” program because of controversial messages largely unrelated to the practice of the profession takes regulators beyond their proper roles. We argued that while professionals can and will be constrained by their decision to pursue their profession, their right to free expression should not be unduly limited. Professional regulators only have authority over expression that is clearly connected to professional practice and must exercise their powers in accordance with their core function of regulating the profession in the public interest. CCLA’s factum is available here. 

We are grateful to Nadia Effendi, Teagan Markin and Erica McLachlan of BLG LLP for their excellent pro bono representation in this case. 

About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.

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Tashi Alford-Duguid

Tashi is CCLA's itinerant staff lawyer, supporting work in each of its advocacy programs. Tashi comes to CCLA with a diverse background in law and policy. His experience includes strategic litigation in South Africa, housing and justice policy in Yukon, and legislative development across Canada. Before joining CCLA, Tashi received a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and a Juris Doctor from the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

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