Ask the President Archive:
Manon Plante, P.Eng., 2023 APEGA President

Ask the President

What is APEGA's stance on the control of speech within a regulated profession?

Given that free speech is essential to scientific debate and effective decision making and therefore the engineering profession, and given the recent court ruling against Dr. Peterson regarding freedom of speech and control of speech within a regulated profession in Ontario, I would like APEGA to issue a statement affirming our professional and individual freedoms and the delineation of any constraints APEGA deems sufficient to warrant disciplinary measures.
Nicholas S., P.Eng.

As innovators and thought leaders, professional engineers and geoscientists rely on the freedom to hold and discuss a wide range of opinions and ideas. Diversity of thought and belief—largely shaped by our individual experiences, culture, and background—enhance creativity and provide new perspectives. It is important to understand that our individual actions and behaviours are also closely tied together with our identity as professionals and cannot be disassociated or dissected.

As such, APEGA’s registrants must adhere to the Code of Ethics, including Part 5: “Professional engineers and geoscientists shall uphold and enhance the honour, dignity and reputation of their professions and thus the ability of the professions to serve the public interest.” It is imperative that when speaking as engineers or geoscientists, we do so with respect and a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism. To do otherwise would jeopardize the trust and confidence the public has in us, and thus the professions themselves.

Field Law, a trusted legal advisor to regulatory bodies and organizations across numerous sectors, has recently published an overview of the Jordan Peterson case as it applies to this balance between freedom of expression and professional regulation.

Another example can be drawn from the medical profession during the height of the pandemic. Differing viewpoints and opinions were acknowledged and discussed provided they were articulated respectfully by those with the appropriate education and experience to speak to certain topics. Individuals who were disrespectful, unprofessional, or who spoke outside their area of expertise soon found that the conversation was closed to them or that they were under review by the regulator of their profession.

APEGA registrants must exercise their professional freedom of expression responsibly, ensuring their words and actions reflect the level of excellence and ethics our professions are known for. By doing so, we enrich the discourse within our community and demonstrate our dedication to maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct and public safety.

Manon Plante, CD1, P.Eng., MDS
APEGA President, 2023
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