Dr. Jordan Peterson has lost his challenge of the College of Psychologists of Ontario’s directive to undergo a social media training program to keep his license to practice psychology in the province. 

On Wednesday, an Ontario court ruled against Peterson, who filed for a judicial review of the college’s mandate, arguing that his political commentary on social media was not under the college’s purview. 

The college ordered Peterson to undergo social media training on professionalism following complaints it received regarding his comments about transgender actor Elliot Page, certain politicians and a plus-size model. 

Last November, the college ordered Peterson complete a specified continuing education or remedial program (SCERP).

The college’s complaints committee alleged Peterson’s public statements amounted to professional misconduct.

The Ontario Divisional Court ruled that the social media training was in line with the college’s mandate to regulate the profession and was not an infringement on Peterson’s freedom of expression.

“I have concluded that the application should be dismissed. In my view, the Decision of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) adequately and reasonably considered Dr. Peterson’s statements in the context of the College’s statutory mandate to regulate the profession in the public interest,” said Judge Schabas.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation was an intervener in the judicial review, arguing in defense of Peterson, saying “professionals have private lives and regulators may not discipline for off-duty conduct that lacks a clear nexus to the profession.”

“We are disappointed in this result, which we think could have a chilling effect on people in other regulated professions, like doctors, lawyers, teachers and accountants,” said Christine Van Geyn, litigation director for the CCF. 

“Professionals should not have to soft pedal their speech for fear that activists will weaponize regulatory bodies so that unpopular speech is penalized, even when there is no connection between that speech and the profession.”

“We hope that Dr. Peterson will appeal this result, which will have long lasting impacts beyond his case.” said Van Geyn. 

Peterson doesn’t believe that his personal commentary has harmed his patients or his profession, arguing that it’s the contrary.  

“I think I’ve done demonstrably more than any psychologist has ever produced to increase the prestige and trust of the practice of psychology around the world,” Peterson told the CBC in January. 

The CCF disagreed with the ruling, saying that, “the mere risk of harm is not enough,” for a regulatory body to curtail Peterson’s freedom of expression and pointed out that the complaints were not made by the individuals that he had criticized on social media. 

“While controversial and inflammatory, there is no suggestion that any of the people Dr Peterson made comments about were harmed in any way, and indeed, they were not the source of the complaints,” said Van Geyn.“Complaints were made by members of the public who simply did not like what Dr Peterson said, or worse, how he said it. This is not a sufficient basis for action by the regulator when weighed against Dr Peterson’s constitutional right to freedom of expression.”

The judge ordered Peterson to pay the college’s legal costs, amounting to $25,000.

Peterson said he wishes to retain his licence and that he stands by the things he’s said. He took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to wish the College of Psychologists of Ontario luck in its, “continued prosecution,” writing, “They’re going to need it.”