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Jordan Peterson’s Appeal to Overturn Mandatory Social Media Training Rejected

Ontario’s highest court has denied the request of psychologist and author Jordan Peterson to rescind an order from his profession’s governing body that will force him to receive remedial social media training.

A three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal, in a decision released on Jan. 16, rejected Dr. Peterson’s appeal to quash the decision of the Ontario Divisional Court that upheld the order from the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

The panel did not explain the reasons for its decision. It simply stated the case had been reviewed and that Dr. Peterson’s attempt to file new evidence with the court was rejected.

Dr. Peterson, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto in psychology, took to social media to weigh in on the decision of the appeals court.

“There are no other legal avenues open to me now. It’s capitulate to the petty bureaucrats and the addle-pated woke mob or lose my professional licence,” he said in a Jan. 16 post on X, congratulating the College of Psychologists of Ontario for winning “this round.”

“Mark my words, however: the war has barely started,” he added. “There is nothing you can take from me that I’m unwilling to lose. So watch out. Seriously. You’ve been warned.”

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Howard Levitt, the lawyer who represented Dr. Peterson, said he was surprised the court did not make clear to what extent professional regulatory bodies can police members’ speech, especially given the amount of media attention the case has received worldwide.

“I think it’s going to be a licence to regulatory bodies to be more aggressive,” he told The National Post. “Is there free speech in Canada? To what extent are the limits on free speech in Canada, to free speech which is not criminal or not tortious, not a violation of any law? To what extent are regulated professionals and regulated trades impacted in terms of what they can say in the public forum?”

“These are important issues and Canada has been castigated broadly for the decision of the divisional court,” he added.

Under Scrutiny

Dr. Peterson first came under scrutiny by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) in 2022 after it received complaints about a number of his social media posts.

The college alleged some of his posts directed at a plus-sized model, transgender actor Elliot Page, and several politicians may be “degrading” to the profession and could amount to professional misconduct.

The CPO’s complaints committee concluded as such in November 2022 and ordered Dr. Peterson to undergo a social media training program on professionalism in making public statements. Not complying could mean losing his licence and ability to practise his profession in Ontario.

He subsequently filed for a judicial review in June 2023, seeking review of the CPO’s order, but had his application dismissed by the court in August.

The Aug. 23 court ruling said the CPO’s order requiring Dr. Peterson to comply with coaching directives falls within the college’s mandate to regulate the profession in the public interest. The judge ruled that, as a member of a “regulated profession,” Dr. Peterson bears responsibility “for the risk of harm that flows from him speaking in that trusted capacity.”

Dr. Peterson rose to fame among social conservatives through his YouTube lectures, his successful self-help book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,” and his opposition to the Liberal government’s Bill C-16, which added the protection of gender identity and expression to the Human Rights Code and Criminal Code.

Dr. Peterson’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended for his comments on Elliot Page, but it was reinstated by Elon Musk after he purchased the social media platform in 2022.

The Epoch Times contacted the CPO for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.

Marnie Cathcart contributed to this report.

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