Ottawa Public Library allowing Jordan Peterson event to go ahead
Transgender advocates also urging the National Gallery of Canada to cancel a separate event with prof
The Ottawa Public Library has decided to allow a private event to go ahead in one of its rented meeting rooms, despite complaints about one of the speakers, Jordan Peterson.
The University of Toronto psychology professor became a lightning rod for controversy when he released videos arguing against political correctness on campus and said he should not be required to use gender-neutral pronouns.
The library said it received complaints from a handful of people and some "back-and-forth" on social media over an event organized by a group called Act! for Canada.
"We provide the use of our meeting room spaces for people who want to rent them in order to speak about whatever topics they'd like as long as they are not illegal or criminal," said Catherine Seaman, the division manager of branch operations at the library.
"It's part of our mandate as a public library to support intellectual freedom as part of a democratic and informed society," she said.
Some transgender people who don't identify as male or female prefer to be addressed with a gender-neutral pronoun such as "they," rather than "he" or "she."
In past interviews Peterson said being compelled to use such pronouns amount to an imposition on his right to free speech.
The event website said Peterson will talk about how a federal bill in support of transgender rights reflects ideas that "share structural similarities with the Marxist ideas that drove Soviet Communism."
It said Peterson will talk about post-modernism, Marxism and political correctness as well as the controversy he has attracted.
Seaman said the library is not a sponsor or partner of the event.
"We encourage people, of course, who have differing views to do the same, to use our spaces to be able to have discourses on whatever topics they want to talk about." Seaman said.
Event follows National Gallery of Canada talk
The Act! for Canada event is scheduled for March 11, two days after Peterson is scheduled to give a separate talk at the National Gallery of Canada on March 9.
Both Peterson and the gallery have said his March 9 talk will focus on his research into the psychology of creativity.
"The topic is apolitical, and the issues arising from my well-publicized stance against compelled speech are completely irrelevant to the talk," Peterson said in an email to CBC News.
As of Thursday afternoon, the gallery had shut down open commenting on the event's Facebook page.
"The Gallery creates event pages to encourage discussion on the topics of our events," the post reads. "Given the nature of posts, it is not serving its intended purpose."