Rory Leishman:

Toronto’s world-famous psychologist, Jordan Peterson, has warned Canadians: “Your much-vaunted Charter of Rights isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.” He has good reason to think so.

Notwithstanding the ostensible guarantee of “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression” in section 2 of the Charter, the Ontario Court of Appeal has refused to hear his appeal of an unanimous ruling a three-judge panel of the Ontario Divisional Court that Peterson has no constitutional right to make public statements that leaders of the College of Ontario Psychologists find offensive.

In addition, the Divisional Court has authorized the College to require Peterson to undergo, and pay for, a re-education program set up by the College “to review, reflect on and ameliorate his professionalism in public statements.” Were Peterson to fail or refuse to take part in this Mao-style, re-education program, he would lose his license to practice psychology.

Peterson is not intimidated. In a defiant article published by the National Post, he thundered: “Bring it on, you bloody pikers: take your next steps, bureaucrats: write me, and tell me how exactly we are to conduct my re-education. I’ll play along … and I will publicize every single bit of it.”

What could Peterson have said that was so offensive? The College’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) cites the following:

a) “Speaking about air pollution and child deaths, Dr. Peterson said: ‘it’s just poor children, and the world has too many people on it anyways’.”

b) “In response to a tweet about actor Elliot Page being ‘proud’ to introduce a trans character on a TV show, Dr. Peterson tweeted on June 22, 2022: ‘Remember when pride was a sin? And Ellen Page just had her breasts removed by a criminal physician’.”

c) ”A tweet on February 19, 2022, in which Dr. Peterson commented that Catherine McKenney, an Ottawa City Councillor who uses they/them pronouns, was an ‘appalling self-righteous moralizing thing’.”

In reasons for judgment by the Divisional Court, Justice Paul Schabas contended: “While Dr. Peterson’s comment on ‘poor children’ may have been sarcastic, it was open to the ICRC to be concerned about him making ‘demeaning jokes’.” Really? What might Schabas and the ICRC think about the propriety of Jonathan Swift’s “modest proposal” to alleviate Ireland’s poverty problem by selling a hundred thousand babies for food?

As for Peterson’s remarks about Page, Schabas stated: “The ICRC’s concerns with Dr. Peterson addressing Elliot Page as ‘her’ and by their (sic) prior name … arose from the language Dr. Peterson used, not his personal views.”

That is simply absurd: In addressing Page as “her,” Peterson was clearly indicating his personal opinion that a biological female remains a biological female even if she undergoes so-called sex-reassignment surgery. And that is not just Peterson’s opinion: it is an indisputable, scientific fact.

Like Peterson, Amy Hamm, a nurse in British Columbia, has been charged with “unprofessional conduct” by the discipline committee of the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives for likewise stating in public that biological sex is unchangeable. She, too, is threatened with loss of her professional license for affirming this well-established, incontrovertible truth.

None of the public statements held against Peterson and Hamm related to their patients. As licensed professionals, he and she are both being harassed and persecuted solely for expressing their controversial opinions in public.

All outspoken lawyers, physicians, engineers, and members of any other regulated profession should beware: all those who publicly state anything that offends the regulators of their profession are also liable to be charged with professional misconduct and deprived of their professional license.

As for the supposed guarantee of freedom of speech in section 2 of the Charter, the Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly decreed that the Charter does not protect the right of any professional to make public statements that offend the regulators of the speaker’s profession.

In the United States, the courts have taken precisely the opposite position on freedom of expression for professionals. In a precedent-setting, concurring opinion in  Lowe v. SEC, 1985, Justice Byron White of the Supreme Court of the United States stated that, except for speech that relates “to a personal nexus between a professional and client,” any regulation of public speech by a professional violates the command in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

The people of the United States enjoy robust constitutional protection for their inalienable right to freedom of expression. Canadians do not.

Peterson is correct: Thanks to a succession of arbitrary rulings by our ever-so-progressive, robed dictators on the Supreme Court of Canada, the supposed guarantees of rights and freedoms in the Charter are worthless.