Some complaints were made to the College of Psychologists of Ontario by members of the public about provocative statements on social media made by Dr Peterson. Those statements related to Dr Peterson’s opinion regarding things like politics, public figures, the Freedom Convoy and climate change. The comments did not relate to the practice of psychology.
The College conducted an investigation and found that Dr. Peterson’s statements violated the Code of Ethics for Psychologists (the “Code”) and therefore the Standards of Professional Conduct (the “Standards”). The College ordered Dr Peterson to complete an education program to address issues regarding professionalism in public statements. Dr. Peterson refused to participate in what he has described as a “re-education program”, and brought an application for judicial review at Ontario Divisional Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Code and the Standards, which are enacted under provincial law.
“This is a classic freedom of expression case. There appears to be growing interest in self-governing professional regulators sanctioning their members for unpopular speech,” said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn. “The point the CCF wants to make in our intervention is that it doesn’t matter whether you like or dislike what Dr. Peterson says. It’s about whether his statements can be sanctioned by a professional regulator when they realistically have nothing to do with the practice of psychology and the complaints were brought by members of the public who basically just don’t like Dr Peterson. We say that granting such an expansive power to regulate the speech of their members to the College of Psychologists would violate the Charter protected right to free expression.”
The CCF is represented in this case by George Avraam, Ahmed Shafey and Ajanthana Anandarajah of Baker McKenzie LLP. The CCF is grateful for their hard work and diligence on this case. The hearing will take place in the summer of 2023.