Alberta moves deadline on post secondary schools to implement Chicago Principles

EDMONTON — Alberta’s advanced education minister says he extended the deadline on new campus free speech rules to accommodate schools, given that people are away in the summer.

Demetrios Nicolaides says the deadline for Alberta’s schools to comply with the Chicago Principles was Oct. 15, but that has now been extended to Dec. 15.

The Chicago Principles, based on a 2014 document from the University of Chicago, stress that post-secondary schools must be accepting and open to debate and that speakers cannot have their voices obstructed or hindered.

Keyano College, based in Fort McMurray, has already approved the principles.

The opposition NDP is urging Nicolaides to drop the plan.

Advanced Education critic David Eggen says he worries the Chicago Principles will open up campuses to speakers promoting hate.

However, Nicolaides says the principles bolster and strengthen free speech rights and will work alongside existing laws that ban hate speech.

“There are already strong legal mechanisms in place,” said Nicolaides in an interview Friday.

“And the Chicago statement itself also makes it clear that free speech cannot violate the law and cannot be used as a way to supersede legal protections.”

Nicolaides said the deadline change is not due to resistance from the schools over the content of the rules.

“The boards of directors of some of the institutions were not meeting over the summer and there were just some logistical challenges,” he said.

“We just wanted to make sure everybody had enough time.”

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