OTTAWA -- A spokesman for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says his promise to yank federal funding from universities that fail to uphold free speech wouldn't apply to a decision by the University of Toronto to ban a nationalist rally from campus.

Scheer made the free speech pledge during his bid for leadership of the party earlier this year and repeated it during his victory speech after he was elected in May.

He said it was about trying to counter the ability of small groups to shut down campus events they don't agree with.

While Scheer hadn't articulated how that would work, the university's recent decision to reject a Canadian Nationalist Party event put the idea to the test.

Scheer's spokesman Jake Enright wouldn't say what exactly is problematic about the cancelled event.

The Canadian Nationalist Party platform claims that the founding peoples of Canada, which it describes as being of European descent, are being suppressed.