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Ontario colleges develop free speech policy ahead of PC's deadline

Ontario's colleges have developed a free speech policy ahead of a government deadline for post-secondary institutions to come up with one or face funding cuts.

Ford government threatened funding cuts if plans not in place by 2019

The policy, which applies to all of the province's 24 colleges, says freedom of speech must be protected. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

Ontario's colleges have developed a free speech policy ahead of a government deadline for post-secondary institutions to come up with one or face funding cuts.

The policy applies to all of the province's 24 colleges, and defines freedom of expression as "the right to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn."

It says freedom of speech must be protected, but specifies that speech that violates the law and the Ontario Human Rights Code is not allowed.

Advocacy organization Colleges Ontario says the policy was developed by a task force of college leaders in collaboration with the College Student Alliance and legal experts.

In August, the province gave colleges and universities until Jan. 1, 2019 to develop, implement and comply with freedom of speech policies.

The Progressive Conservative government has said the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario will monitor compliance starting in September 2019 and schools that don't comply could face funding cuts.

Experts have said the move was aimed at pleasing a segment of the Tory base that was outraged when some speakers and professors came under fire for their conservative views.

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