Ontario’s NDP government has launched a program which is a major assault on freedom of speech, and has profound implications for pro-life people in the province. The government has issued a “zero tolerance” program which it expects universities across the province to adopt.
The policy is an attempt to stamp out all forms of discrimination in the province’s post secondary institutions. It outlaws not just blatant acts of discrimination, but any words or actions which would create a “hostile atmosphere” for minority students. The possible penalties for breaching the guidelines include expulsion from the university.
The desire to remove discrimination from universities is a laudable one, and the desire to create an atmosphere in which minorities do not encounter hostility is noble. Education is the greatest vehicle for overcoming disadvantage, and e should, (ordinarily, applaud any measure which makes education more open and friendly to minority students. Desirable as this goal may be, the price of establishing such a regime by government regulation comes at far too high a price.
The big problem for Christians and pro-lifers is that the new policy is based on the Ontario Human Rights Code which includes both sexual orientation and gender as grounds of discrimination.
When the Code was amended in 1986 to include sexual orientation, its proponents claimed that the amendment would not require anyone to regard homosexuality as normal and moral. They argued that it would simply serve to ensure that homosexual persons would have equal access to housing, jobs and education. On that basis, many Christian members of the Ontario legislature voted for Bill 7. Those who opposed warned that it would involve much more than that, and that prediction is becoming a reality.
The zero tolerance policy of the government makes it an offence for any teacher, student administrator or visitor to say or do anything which would either constitute discrimination or create a hostile atmosphere. The policy includes gender and sexual orientation as protected areas. The net effect of this is that anyone teaching, promoting or defending the traditional Christian view of human sexuality and family could be excluded from the university
It is a most frightening kind of mind control which would utterly silence anyone who would express views which in fact form part of the teachings of several world religions. It is utterly repulsive to think that such a policy would be implemented at universities where the free exchange of ideas has traditionally been held to be essential.
Simply taking a pro-life position could be seen as discriminatory against women and contrary to the policy. Arguing that homosexual activity is abnormal or morally wrong could be seen as creating a hostile environment and grounds for being expelled from university.
Don’t think these are just the conjectures of a paranoid pro-life activist. Two University of Ottawa law professors have stated publicly that the head of a university pro-life club, just by heading the club, is acting contrary to the policy and could be subject to expulsion.
The one piece of good news is that opposition to the policy has been sharp and widespread. The first to express opposition, quite understandably, were Ontario university professors. At a meeting of their association, the policy was unanimously condemned. A number of universities have already told the provincial government that they will have nothing to do with implementing such a policy on their campuses. The media has also joined the fray, giving ample time to those who oppose the government to speak against the measure.
For academies, the nature of higher education is at issue. For pro-life students and teachers, nothing less than their right to participate in the province’s universities is at stake.