fbpx
National Campus Life Network > Blog > freedom of expression

News release: Motion to Ban University of Manitoba Pro-Life Club Defeated But Concerns Regarding Future Censorship Remain

News Release

MOTION TO BAN UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA PRO-LIFE CLUB DEFEATED BUT CONCERNS REGARDING FUTURE CENSORSHIP REMAIN

WINNIPEG, MB (October 9 2013) – On the evening of October 7th, the University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life (UMSCL) were glad to witness the defeat of a motion calling for the revocation of their club status. However, they are continuing to express concern about two other motions passed by the University of Manitoba Student Union (UMSU).

“We were encouraged to hear members of the council defend free speech on campus and see the motion to revoke our student group status defeated soundly,” states Cara Ginter, vice-president of UMSCL. “Unfortunately, two other motions were passed that could be used to censor our student group and others in the future.”

The first motion was put forward by two students as a response to a pro-life display hosted by the club September 23-25. This display, called the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), uses large posters with pictures of aborted fetuses and victims of historical genocides to argue that abortion is a human rights violation. Council members, including Nursing, Law, and Education representatives, spoke against the motion and it was ultimately defeated.

Two other motions were also presented by the council’s Student Group Promotions and Affairs Committee (SGPAC), which express concern over the content of the display and resolving that (1) the council meet with the university administration “to push for a reconsideration of the review and approval process for public displays” and (2) that the policies governing the penalization of clubs and revocation of club status be reviewed and clarified.

“We applaud the student union’s defeat of the first motion and hope they will use that good sense moving forward,” states Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network (NCLN), an organization that supports pro-life students in Canada. “UMSU is certainly within its rights to review its own policies and even discuss the display approval process with the administration – as long as they don’t attempt to hinder the club’s right to exist and exercise its freedom of expression on campus.”

“The display was a great opportunity to dialogue with students about the issue of abortion,” says Ginter. “We’re looking forward to continuing this conversation over the course of the year, educating our peers about this important human rights issue.”

-30-

For more information please contact:

Cara Ginter, vice-president, University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life: caraginter@hotmail.com

Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network: westerncanada@ncln.ca

John Carpay, JCCF President and lawyer acting for the students: 403-619-8014, jcarpay@jccf.ca.

Share Button

Press Release: Pro-Life Club Banned at Trent University in Peterborough

Press Release

PRO-LIFE CLUB BANNED AT TRENT UNIVERSITY IN PETERBOROUGH

PETERBOROUGH, ON (February 7, 2013) – Students applying to form a pro-life club at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario were rejected by the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) last week on grounds that such a club would be ‘exclusive’. Trent Lifeline has secured legal counsel and is demanding that the decision be reversed and club status granted.

“The purpose of Trent Lifeline is to engage with the student body regardless of what someone’s position is on abortion,” said Heather Anne Robertson, President of Trent Lifeline. “Anyone can bring their ideas and opinions to the discussion. To exclude us in the name of being inclusive is absurd.”

In response to its application, Trent Lifeline received an email from the TCSA Club & Group Coordinator informing them that “campaigning for pro life or pro choice is not allowed on campus as well since there is [sic] so many opinions to this it can lead to a very exclusive group, while all clubs at Trent University must be inclusive.” After requesting more information on the policies upon which this decision was based, Lifeline was informed that a policy could not be sent “as there is one working under way.”

“The student association is supposed to serve its members and not selectively exclude one group of them who take a position on a controversial human rights issue,” stated Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of the National Campus Life Network, an organization that exists to support pro-life students in Canada. “The fact that the TCSA may be re-writing its policies to justify its discrimination against this club is also disconcerting.”

A letter from Trent Lifeline’s legal counsel, John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, was sent to the President of TCSA on February 6th. This letter calls for a reversal of the decision to reject Lifeline’s application, and explains why and how the student union’s conduct is illegal.

“We hope that the student union will reverse its decision, thereby removing the need for court action. However, if necessary, we will seek a Court Order to uphold the free speech rights and freedom of association rights of these students,” stated Carpay.

-30-

For media requests, please contact:

John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, 403-619-8014 or jcarpay@jccf.ca

Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of the National Campus Life Network, director@ncln.ca, 416 388 0461.

Heather Anne Robertson, President of Trent Lifeline, lifelinetrent@gmail.com, http://trentlifeline.ncln.ca

 

Share Button

Youth Protecting Youth: Freedom of Expression Denied at UVic

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by YPY Info Officer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

In a move that is unprecedented at the University of Victoria, the university administration cancelled “Choice” Chain, an event that Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the pro-life club, had formally booked. 

This event has been held at UVic before but in a decision last February, the UVic Students’ Society (UVSS) used this as one reason to strip YPY of the public booking privileges that other clubs have. Because of this YPY contacted UVic directly in November, asking the university to recognize the UVSS’ censorship and to facilitate our booking for another “Choice” Chain. 

Because the request was not submitted ten business days prior to the requested event date, the space booking was rejected. Jim Dunsdon, the Vice President of Student Affairs, told us that he wanted to work with us but that we needed to abide by the university’s policy of ten business days. 

Heeding this advice YPY submitted another space booking request approximately two and a half weeks ago, requesting to book space on the UVic quad from 12:30-2:30pm, February 1st. We met with the university, worked out the details and received a letter approving the space booking. At 4:30pm on Jan 31st, UVic cancelled the event, claiming ignorance of the UVSS’ February decision mentioned above that revoked YPY public booking privileges and ordered that no “’Choice’ Chain or similar events” be held. Deferring to the Students’ Society, the university said it needs to review the appropriateness of the UVSS’ restrictions on YPY’s activities. 

Over the course of the protracted campaign of censorship launched against pro-life students at UVic by the Students’ Society, the university has kept its distance, repeatedly claiming that the UVSS is a separate entity and that the university does not have jurisdiction to intervene. Yesterday’s cancellation contradicts this position and disregards one of UVic’s stated fundamental values: “freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry.[1]

 This cancellation is an infringement on our freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;[2] to which the University of Victoria is bound, insofar as it restricts those freedoms, as an institution funded by the Government of Canada.


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Kwantlen Student Association Rescinds Earlier Decision and Grants Pro-Life Club Status

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Kwantlen Student Association Rescinds Earlier Decision and Grants Pro-Life Club Status

LANGLEY, B.C. (December 6 2012) – In the midst of preparing to file a lawsuit against their student association for discrimination, the pro-life student group at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in B.C. has been granted full club status.

The Runner, the Kwantlen student newspaper, reported that the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) reversed its earlier decision during a two-hour in-camera session on December 5th, and has now granted Protectores Vitae (Protectors of Life) formal status as a campus club. The specific content of any motions from the meeting was not made available, nor was the record of how the individual board members voted. Oliver Capko, the president of Protectores Vitae, was contacted later that evening by Christopher Girodat, the Chairperson of the KSA Executive Committee, who informed him of the decision.

“I am relieved that the issue has been resolved,” said Oliver. “After working towards this all semester, it is great to finally be accepted and treated like other clubs on campus.”

This decision by the Kwantlen Student Association was a reversal of its November 9th decision, which rejected the group’s application on the grounds that it conflicted with the student union’s pro-choice policy on abortion. Protectores Vitae secured legal representation from the Justice Centre, and demanded that the student association rescind their decision and, when the KSA did not, Protectores Vitae prepared to file a lawsuit.

“The Justice Centre has invested a lot of time in legal research and preparing the court documents, but we are happy that it will not be necessary to commence a court action against this discrimination,” stated Calgary lawyer John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

“This has not been the first time such discrimination against pro-life groups has happened on university campuses,” commented Anastasia Pearse on behalf of the National Campus Life Network. “We hope that other student associations will learn from Kwantlen’s example so that this won’t happen again.”

The students of Protectores Vitae, who are currently in the midst of exam season, plan to begin club activities on campus in the New Year.

“Now that we no longer have to fight against discrimination, we can actually focus on why we wanted to start this club in the first place,” said Oliver. “It’s important that bioethical issues, like abortion, are raised on campus and we look forward to being part of that conversation here at Kwantlen.”

-30-

For media requests, please contact:

John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, 403-619-8014 or jcarpay@jccf.ca

Anastasia Pearse, National Campus Life Network, westerncanada@ncln.ca, 604 365 3484

Oliver Capko, President Protectores Vitae, kwantlenprotectoresvitae@hotmail.com, http://kwantlenprotectoresvitae.ncln.ca/

Share Button

Press Release: Student Union applies double standard to pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Student Union applies double standard to pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)

Dec. 19, 2011. Fredericton, New Brunswick:  Pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick’s (UNB) Fredericton campus were shocked last week to learn from their student newspaper, The Brunswickan, that their club would not be recognized by the Student Union due to a “lack of information”.

“The whole situation has been incredibly frustrating,” says Amanda Magee, the President of UNB Students for Life.  “We have given the Student Union information.  We have offered to be present to answer questions.”

UNB Students for Life applied for club status in October, not anticipating any issues given that a pro-life club is active at the UNB Saint John campus and had also existed at the Fredericton campus only a few years previous.  When their contact on council, Andrew Martel, requested additional information from the club, they replied, ensuring that the information would be received before the next Council meeting on November 20th.  Despite this, Andrew Martel stated at the meeting, according to the Nov. 20th minutes, that he did not receive any information from the club.

“We’ve had to rely on the student newspaper and the minutes of the meetings to piece things together,” adds Magee.  “And the Dec. 4th minutes still aren’t available so we’re not entirely sure what happened.”

What is clear is that the pro-life nature of the club has some Councillors concerned.  Some Councillors said that club would be “contentious” and “inviting debate”.  Others, such as Jordan Thompson, the President of the Council, stated that, “the Student Union is not the moral police. As long as the clubs and societies are functioning with certain conduct, it is not our prerogative to judge them on our certain beliefs.”

“It’s a double standard,” comments Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network.  “Simply browse through the listing of clubs on campus and you’ll find clubs with controversial positions.  The Council has asked for additional information; what they need is information concerning what the role of a student union is and is not.  Determining which views are accepted and which are discriminated against is not part of their mandate.”

UNB Students for Life will be addressing the issue at the next Council meeting in January.

“We have a right to be on campus,” asserts Magee.  “Issues like abortion should be discussed and debated.  Resources on positive alternatives should be promoted.  All we want is the same rights as other clubs so we can do these things on campus.”

For more information, contact Amanda Magee, UNB Students for Life President, 506 852 4399.

For additional comment, contact Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 (office), 416 388 0461 (cell).

National Campus Life Network is a national pro-life organization that exists to educate, network and support pro-life post-secondary students across Canada.

-30-

Further Information

Prepared December 18th, 2011

  • Oct. 14th: University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) Students for Life submitted their application for club status to the Student Union. The application complied with the clubs and societies policy.
  • Nov. 6th: Student Union council members begin deliberations on whether or not to grant status to the club (Minutes are available online at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480 Discussions concerning the club begin on page 15).
  • Concerned that the club could be “controversial”, “touchy” and “negative”, the council resolved to ask for additional information and defer the decision until the next meeting.
  • Nov. 14th: The club receives a request for additional information from Andrew Martel and replied on Nov. 18th.
  • Nov. 20th: Student Union councillors resume debate concerning the club (see minutes at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480, starting on pg 14).
    • Andrew Martel, the Vice-President Finance and Operations, stated that he contacted the club for more information and did not hear back from them.
    • Councillors raised objections to the club as it would be a “single issue” club with “political will or intention” (Councillor Gormal-Asal, pg 14), “contentious” and “inviting debate” (Gorman-Asal, pg 15), and potentially disseminating “misinformation” for the pregnancy centre (Glenwright, pg 15).  Other council members stated that the student union should not be a “morality police” (Chamberlain-Boyle, pg 14, and Thompson, pg 15).
    • The issue was deferred until more information about the club was presented.
  • Nov. 23rd: An article in The Brunswickan reports on the debate.  http://thebruns.ca/articles/49984 This is the first the club has heard of the situation.
  • Nov. 24th: The club emailed Andrew Martel, expressing their concern with the manner in which their application was being debated and including additional information on the club. A meeting with the Student Union was requested.
  • Nov. 28th:  Andrew Martel responded by email.  He stated he would provide the responses to the Council that Sunday and suggested that the club attend the meeting so as to answer questions.  The club immediately replied, requesting information on how to find the meeting.  A follow-up email was also sent shortly thereafter, but no answer was received.  As such, no members of the club attended the meeting.
  • December 4th student union meeting. (Minutes for the Dec. 4th meeting are not yet online.)
  • Dec. 5th: Andrew Martel contacted the club by email, requesting further information on what groups and centres the club would be referring students to for help with unplanned pregnancies or post-abortion counselling. The club replied on the same day with additional details and links to the centres’ websites.
  • Dec. 7th: An article in The Brunswickan reported that the club had been denied status at the Dec. 4 meeting, citing “insufficient information from the club.”  In the article, Andrew Martel stated that if more information from the club is received, he will bring it forward.  The information that is needed  is “where the resources are coming from and where they will be directing students.”  http://thebruns.ca/articles/50519
  • Dec. 14th: An email is received from Andrew Martel, informing the group that their information was submitted too late for the last meeting (although additional information had been provided on Nov. 28th, a week before the Dec. 4th meeting).  He will bring forward information from the Dec. 5th email at a January meeting.

 

Update:  Media Coverage of the Situation

LifeSiteNews.com:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/u-new-brunswick-student-union-denies-club-status-to-pro-life-students

Pro-Woman Pro-Life: http://www.prowomanprolife.org/2011/12/19/bumpy-beginnings/


Share Button

Press Release: Student Trespass Charges Withdrawn in Carleton University Free Expression Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Student Trespass Charges Withdrawn in Carleton University Free Expression Case

OTTAWA, ON. November 1, 2011- Trespassing charges that were filed against members of Carleton Lifeline, the pro-life student club at Carleton University, were withdrawn by the Crown yesterday.

On October 4, 2010, members of Carleton Lifeline, a pro-life club at Carleton University, were arrested for attempting to peacefully display the Genocide Awareness Project, an exhibit which compares abortion to other forms of genocide. The University deemed the Genocide Awareness Project to be “offensive” and directed the Ottawa Police Service to arrest and charge four Carleton University tuition-paying students and a Queen’s University student with trespassing. The charges were scheduled to proceed to trial today and tomorrow (November 2nd, 2011).

The Crown stated that the basis for withdrawing the trespass charges is that the issues dealing with the relationship between a university and its students was already being dealt with in Lobo et al. v. Carleton University et al., the civil action brought by two Carleton Lifeline members, Ruth (Lobo) Shaw and John McLeod, against Carleton University and members of its administration.

In July, the Ontario Superior Court heard a motion brought by Carleton University which sought to strike Carleton Lifeline’s Statement of Claim, the document initiating the lawsuit. Had the university been successful, this would have ended the suit. In a split decision, Justice Toscano Roccamo ordered that the action could continue but ordered Carleton Lifeline to make several amendments to its Statement of Claim.

In a subsequent decision regarding costs of the motion to strike, Justice Toscano Roccamo ordered the students to pay Carleton University’s legal costs in the amount of $18,400.87 plus applicable taxes. Carleton University had asked that the students pay $21, 467.68 in legal fees.

“We are pleased that the Crown has decided to withdraw these unjust charges” said Ruth (Lobo) Shaw, former president of Carleton Lifeline. “We have always maintained that we had the right to exhibit the Genocide Awareness Project on campus and that our arrest was unlawful. The withdrawal of these unjust charges is confirmation of that fact.”

Despite the withdrawal of the charges, the civil action against Carleton University is ongoing. “Although we no longer need to defend ourselves against the trespassing charges, a lot of work still needs to be done to move our lawsuit against Carleton University along and to clarify the legal rights of students to campus free speech and expression,” said John McLeod, current president of Carleton Lifeline.

To support Carleton Lifeline’s Defense Fund, please visit www.carletonlifeline.wordpress.com.

For further information, please visit www.carletonlifeline.wordpress.com or contact Carleton Lifeline’s Legal Counsel, Albertos Polizogopoulos at (613) 241-2701.

-30-

Share Button

Press Release: Carleton University Claims Carleton Lifeline’s Lawsuit is Frivolous

Carleton University Claims Carleton Lifeline’s Lawsuit Is Frivolous

OTTAWA,ON.  In the case of Lobo et. al. v. Carleton University et. al, Carleton University has brought for a Motion to Strike Carleton Lifeline’s Statement of Claim. The lawsuit followed closely on the heels of Carleton University having Ottawa City Police arrest its students for trespass when they tried to set up a pro-life display last October.

“This is an important case for freedom of expression on campus.” said Albertos Polizogopoulos, legal counsel for Lifeline.” Recently there has occurred many other cases where university students have had their voices silenced.”

In February 2011, Ruth Lobo and Nicholas McLeod, two members of Carleton Lifeline, the pro life club at Carleton University, commenced an action against Carleton University following the University’s attempt to censor them.

In April, Carleton University responded to Lifeline’s Statement of Claim with a Motion to Strike it on the grounds that it discloses no reasonable cause of action, is scandalous, frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process.

Carleton Lifeline disagrees and will continue to defend their right to freedom of expression vigorously.

If the University is successful in their Motion, Carleton Lifeline’s Statement of Claim will be struck, thereby ending this lawsuit.

The Motion to Strike will be heard in court on June 16, 2011 at 10:00 am. The hearing will be held at 161 Elgin Street it Ottawa, Ontario and is open to the public.

For more information please contact Carleton Lifeline’s legal counsel, Albertos Polizogopoulos: 613-241-2701 – albertos@vdg.ca.
Mr. Polizogopoulos will also be available for comment after the hearing.

To view footage of Carleton Lifeline’s arrest and for other information, please visit: www.carletonlifeline.wordpress.com

 

-30-

Share Button

Youth Protecting Youth: Pro-life club sues Carleton University

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

 

Yesterday, the pro-life club Carleton Lifeline officially sued the University of Carleton for their discriminatory treatment of the club this year. These actions primarily involve the university’s response to Carleton Lifeline seeking to display a controversial display that the administration of the university deemed offensive.

Youth Protecting Youth, having experienced discriminatory treatment from the University of Victoria’s Student Society in the past and present, stands in solidarity with Carleton Lifeline and other pro-life clubs on campuses across Canada, as we are all seeking to share this unpopular message that life should be protected from conception to natural death. For the full press release from Carleton Lifeline, visit their blog here.


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.