National Campus Life Network (NCLN) is very disappointed with the decision of the BC Supreme Court yesterday, which decided against the petition of Cameron Cote (the former president of the pro-life club Youth Protecting Youth at the University of Victoria) and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA). The case was in response to ongoing censorship from the student society and university administration and sought to have a confirmation that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be considered to apply to universities.
The University of Victoria has had a history of discrimination and censorship against pro-lifers. Anastasia Pearse, then president of the pro-life club Youth Protecting Youth, sued the student society with the help of the BCCLA in 2010. The lawsuit was settled out of court on the club’s terms, but unfortunately the student society and university administration has continued to bully the club over the past several years, censuring them for their activities.
Over the years the club has had their funding and status denied, they have had restrictions placed on their club booking and postering privileges, and has had stink bombs and smoke bombs set off during their activities. Recently, in the fall of 2014, the club faced vandalism and theft when two women threw used cat litter all over the table and stole fetal models. The current case focuses on events of 2013, when the university administration suddenly revoked their approval for space for a club event and admonished Cameron Cote, then club president, when the event went ahead despite the university’s attempted censorship.
Chief Justice Hinkson’s ruling found that the Charter did not apply in this case.
“I am very disappointed that the BC Supreme Court has ruled that the University of Victoria can silence an unpopular message at a moment’s notice without being held accountable to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” commented Cameron Cote. “If a university can pick and choose who is allowed to express their views in common areas on campus, then it is not only those who hold the pro-life view that should be concerned, but all students and indeed all Canadians.”
“This is another blow to the reputation of Canadian universities,” states Anastasia Pearse, alumnus of the University of Victoria and NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator. “Universities claim to value free speech in their policies on the one hand and then repeatedly act against it when the peaceful expression and activities of some students is controversial or offensive to some.”
National Campus Life Network is Canada’s national pro-life student organization.