Do you ever worry that Canadians have a niceness problem? In classes and in groups many of us are afraid to voice opinions that others might see as unpleasant, contrary, or even worse, hateful. It isn’t that we all agree with one another. Our opinions and views are as varied as they are in any other society. But many of us have been conditioned simply to be agreeable with one another. We have not learned how to disagree or that disagreement can lead to better understanding of issues. It is a skill that can and should be taught from a very early age.
“I always thought that, as a researcher, if I based my arguments on rigorous research and had the facts on my side, that would be enough. Now, I’m not so sure. For the first time in my professional life, I’m afraid of the consequences for speaking out.”
The federal Liberal government has been promising for several years to bring forward legislation to address “online harms.” We have long written about the need for and challenges of online harms legislation.
On August 30, 2018, your government, Premier Ford, proclaimed it was going to champion free expression. You were quite clear: “Ontario's Government for the People is delivering on its promise to uphold free speech on every Ontario publicly funded university and college campus, Premier Doug Ford announced today.” You added, "Our government made a commitment to the people of Ontario to protect free speech on campuses. Promise made, promise kept."