Controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson has launched a legal challenge against the College of Psychologists of Ontario after he said the governing body threatened to pull his practicing license if he doesn’t complete social media re-education for comments he made on Twitter and the Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Peterson, 60, filed an application for judicial review with the Ontario Divisional Court, The Toronto Sun reported on Wednesday, as the clinical psychologist has said he will refuse to comply with the regulatory body’s demands.
The CPO, which oversees practicing psychologists in Ontario in order to protect patients from professional misconduct, ordered Peterson to complete a mandatory “Specified Continuing Education or Remedial Program” to “review, reflect on and ameliorate [his] professionalism in public statements,” according a lengthy list of requirements from the college Peterson shared on Twitter.
He must meet with a psychologist for coaching classes, which he must pay for, until a final report is issued by the coach that shows their concerns have been “properly ameliorated.” The CPO reached its decision on Nov. 22 following an investigation.
“I’m not complying. I’m not submitting to re-education. I am not admitting that my viewpoints — many of which have, by the way, been entirely justified by the facts that have emerged since the complaints were levied — were either wrong or unprofessional,” he wrote in the National Post Wednesday evening.
“I’m going to say what I have to say, and let the chips fall where they will. I have done nothing to compromise those in my care; quite the contrary — I have served all my clients and the millions of people I am communicating with to the best of my ability and in good faith, and that’s that.”
“If it becomes necessary” for him to attend the classes, he pledged to make all of the details of what they’re teaching public.
In June, Twitter suspended Peterson for a post about trangender actor Elliot Page that broke the platform’s rules “against hateful conduct.”
“Remember when pride was a sin? And Ellen Page just had her breasts removed by a criminal physician,” Peterson tweeted.
Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk reinstated Peterson’s account in November after he took over the company.
A month earlier, he announced he would be stepping away from social media after he caught heat for retweeting a New York Post article about plus-size Sports Illustrated model Yummi Nu, calling her “Not beautiful,” adding that “no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.”
In January, the former University of Toronto researcher claimed on Joe Rogan’s podcast that being transgender is a result of a “social contagion” and similar to “satanic ritual abuse,” and suggested that acceptance of the trans community is a sign of “civilizations collapsing.”
In response, Critics again denounced Spotify’s “The Joe Rogan Experience” for having “peddled harmful anti-trans rhetoric.” The CPO cited the Jan. 25 podcast appearance in its notice to Peterson.
Peterson also claimed in the National Post that he was targeted for supporting Canadian opposition leader Pierre Poilievre’s criticisms of the COVID-19 lockdowns, criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Chief of Staff Gerald Butts, criticizing an Ottawa council member and making fun of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“Every single accusation is not only independent of my clinical practice, but explicitly political — and not only that: unidirectionally explicitly political,” Peterson, a free-speech advocate, wrote. “Every single thing I have been sentenced to correction for saying is insufficiently leftist, politically. I’m simply too classically liberal — or, even more unforgivably — conservative.”
In May 2022, Peterson blasted Trudeau on Twitter for his travel ban.
“I’m at my daughter’s wedding in California. I will never forget [sic] @justintrudeau that my father is not here because of your utterly unconscionable, unconstitutional and vindictive travel ban,” he said at the time.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board defended Peterson for “speaking his mind” in an opinion piece published on Wednesday evening.
“Professional bodies are supposed to ensure that practitioners are competent, not enforce political orthodoxies or act as language police outside the office,” the board wrote in a scathing column.
Peterson, who boasts over 15 million followers across his social media platforms, told The Toronto Sun that he never had any complaints levied against him until he propelled international attention in 2016. He said he’s since had to hire lawyers to handle the college’s complaints.
“I practiced for 20 years without being investigated, this only started when I became a prominent public figure,” Peterson said in a phone interview with the news outlet Wednesday morning.
He’s suspended his private clinical practice since 2017 when he said his notoriety made it unethical impossible to continue.
Peterson penned a letter to Trudeau, which he published in the National Post, demanding he look into the government’s regulatory bodies.
“I am not suggesting or even presuming that you or any of the people associated with you had anything directly to do with this,” he wrote. “However, the fact that it is happening (and that physicians and lawyers have become as terrified as psychologists now are of their own regulatory bodies) is something that has definitely happened on your watch, as a consequence of your own conduct and the increasingly compulsion-based and ideologically pure policies that you have promoted and legislated.”