National Campus Life Network > Blog > Campus News > BC Supreme Court Rules Against Freedom of Speech for Pro-Life University Students

BC Supreme Court Rules Against Freedom of Speech for Pro-Life University Students

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.

YPY students protest illegal censorship in 2010

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.”

For more information or additional comment, contact Anastasia Pearse, NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator. westerncanada@ncln.ca604 365 3484.

National Campus Life Network is Canada’s national pro-life student organization.

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1 Comment

  1. ichi

    Look… I’m not pro-life or anything, and I made this account specifically to leave this message here… Everyone has the right to free speech (or should, anyways…) however extreme graphic images where your message goes from being a message, to being seen as an “Attack”, is the huge “grey zone” that lets stuff like this happen… I have friends that are pro-lifers, and there’s nothing wrong with most people who are pro-life. It’s the extremist’s who go around telling people that their murderer’s and killers because they weren’t ready… I don’t have a problem when people do simple things such as hand out information and try to bring others up to speed knowledge wise. You don’t need to guilt people into decisions they don’t want to make/aren’t ready to make, as opposed to just let them know what they’re doing. I know that relaying hard to hear/learn information is also a grey zone in regards to guilt, but that’s about the gist of the situation. Again, I repeat, if you’re handing out things with INFORMATION, excellent, thank you for teaching people further in regards to the situation. If you’re in a group, standing on a corner of a street, with graphic pictures on picket signs, shouting and calling people murderer’s, that’s not ok… That is whats seen as an attack, and it’s stupid s**t like that, that gets pro-lifers such a negative image. People are more common to remember the extreme negative’s as opposed to the extreme good… It’s far from a good thing, but that tends to just be how it is in this day and age…

    And if the first argument someone’s going to try and make is going to be something like… “yes but that baby doesn’t get a say regardless” then please don’t bother… As I won’t acknowledge it… If you’re alone, with no support from family/etc., with no means of properly supporting a child, and you’re the kind of person who isn’t fond on the idea of leaving your responsibility to someone else, then ya… There’s also the huge subject of rape that could quickly turn into a flaming war… As I said, if someone’s going to call me an a**hole for stating my opinion then I’ll just ignore it, but if someone’s got their own opinion their willing to TALK about, then I’ve no problem talking with them.

    The whole bottom line I completely swerved off from is simply this: Everyone should have the right to >>>SAY<<< what ever they want. It's the screaming, graphic images, and so on, that make it seem as though it's going from a freedom of speech subject, quickly to a form of verbal assault. And again, not every pro-lifer is like this (most aren't).

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