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University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union sued over censoring free expression on campus

After fighting since August to have their club status renewed for this school year, students from University of Toronto Students for Life (UTMSFL), with the representation of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, have filed a lawsuit against their student union. National Campus Life Network has been supporting UTMSFL throughout the process as they have been combating the immature and discriminatory behaviour of their student union. Our staff have been impressed and encouraged by their perseverance in this case, and continued dedication to sharing the pro-life message on their campus.

NCLN Staff with UTM Students for Life
NCLN Staff with UTM Students for Life

From the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union sued over censoring free expression on campus

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a court action against the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU), to defend the free expression rights of a pro-life student group that is being denied registered club status by UMTSU.UTMSU has refused to renew the club status of Students for Life for the 2015-16 year, effectively barring the student group from using the student centre and accessing student union resources.  As a result, in September of 2015, Students for Life could not join other campus clubs in setting up a table during clubs’ week—a key event for recruiting new members.

UTMSU had granted club status for Students for Life in the 2014-15 school year, but changed its mind specifically because of Students for Life’s “stance on Abortion”.  UTMSU’s mission statement includes a commitment “[t]o safeguard the individual rights of the student, regardless of race, creed, sex … or personal or political beliefs,” and lists “strength in diverse voices and opinions” as a “fundamental belief.”

“It appears that UTMSU sees diverse opinions as good for most topics, but not abortion,” stated Calgary lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

After receiving a legal warning letter from the Justice Centre in October 2015, Russ Adade, UTMSU Vice-President, changed his previous rationale for denying club status to Students for Life, namely, the club’s stance on abortion.  Adade instead told Students for Life that the reason their club was denied status was “violations and discrepancies we found within your constitution in relation to the clubs handbook and UTMSU operational policy as it pertains to clubs.”

Students for Life immediately made the required changes to their constitution, but UTMSU has continued to deny club status, necessitating court action.

Students for Life has filed a court action against UTMSU for violating its own rules, for acting with bias and bad faith, for breaching the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness, and for failing to respect students’ fundamental freedoms of expression and association.

“The actions of UTMSU have demonstrated their disregard for their own rules, and for students’ freedom of expression and freedom of association,” stated Diane Zettel, President of Students for Life.

For more information, please contact:

Diane Zettel, President, UTM Students for Life
647-224-9339 or diane.zettel@mail.utoronto.ca

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

 Visit the UTMSFL website
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ANTI-ABORTION GROUP AT RYERSON FILES LAWSUIT OVER ILLEGAL DISCRIMINATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ANTI-ABORTION GROUP AT RYERSON FILES LAWSUIT OVER ILLEGAL DISCRIMINATION

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October 14, 2015. TORONTO, ON— Pro-life students at Ryerson University have filed a lawsuit against the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) over denying their club, Students for Life at Ryerson (SFLR), status.

On February 23rd, 2015, the RSU Board of Directors unanimously voted that SFLR would not be allowed to form a pro-life club. This vote marked the last step in an appeal process that began in the fall semester after SFLR was rejected by the Student Groups Committee on the basis that the RSU, “opposes…groups, meetings, or events that promote misogynist views towards woman [sic] and ideologies that promote gender inequity, challenges women’s right [sic] to bodily autonomy, or justifies [sic] sexual assault”.

“Our club stands for human rights for all human beings, including those at the earliest stages of life. We also want to support pregnant students on campus who want alternatives to abortion,” states Carter Grant, a third year business major and Vice-President of SFLR.

Pro-life students at Ryerson were first denied club status back in 2003.  Now students are taking the decision to court to assert their right to be treated fairly by their student union, and to not be discriminated against on the basis of their pro-life viewpoint.

What is happening at Ryerson is not an isolated event.  Pro-life students across the country have faced similar censorship at other institutions, including at the University of Victoria, University of Calgary, York University, Carleton University, Trent University, Lakehead University, and Capilano College.

As a strong advocate for freedom of expression, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) strongly opposes these acts of discrimination and is assisting the students with this case.  CCBR’s new legal department, CCBR Legal, has retained experienced constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson to defend the students.  Ms. Crosson says that, “pro-life students have been denied rights on campuses long enough.  This is the time to end this battle and enshrine students’ rights on campus.”

Through CCBR Legal, CCBR provides legal representation for those in the pro-life movement.  As history as shown, legal representation is an integral part of successful social movements.  The law protects the right for pro-life individuals to share their message on the same basis as others and CCBR Legal is determined to protect this right.

For more information, please contact Carol Crosson at 403-796-8110 or ccrosson@crossonlaw.ca, and Carter Grant at 647-213-4242 or carter.grant@ryerson.ca.

 

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Pro-Life Students to Take Kwantlen Student Association to Court for Discrimination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pro-Life Students to Take Kwantlen Student Association to Court for Discrimination

LANGLEY, B.C. (December 3 2012) – Protectores Vitae, the pro-life group at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, has announced that it will be taking the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) to court after the KSA failed to rescind the decision that denied the group the right to exist on campus.

Court documents are expected to be completed and filed the week of December 10-14. These documents will be made available on the club’s website after having been filed at court.

“After discussion amongst Protectores Vitae members, we have decided to move forward with the lawsuit,” said Oliver Capko, president of the pro-life student group. “It is unfortunate that we have to sue our own student representatives in order to secure equal and fair treatment on campus.”

Legal representation for the Kwantlen Student Association did bring forward an offer to grant Protectores Vitae status as a “recognized group” but not campus club status on par with 33 other clubs. Recognized group status is granted to religious and political party groups, or those that exist to support a specific external organization. Clubs, on the other hand, can be academic, athletic, social, cultural “or other purpose that seeks to enrich the extracurricular lives of students through their time at Kwantlen University,” according to the KSA Clubs Package.

“We are an autonomous group, without affiliation to any other external organization,” stated Oliver Capko. “We are not religious, nor are we political. Our activities would lead to consideration of bio-ethical issues at Kwantlen, which would surely enrich the extracurricular experience of students. That is why we applied for club status and not for recognized group status.”

“Student unions need to recognize and fund all student groups, or none of them. The student union politicians have no legal authority to fund only groups that they like and agree with, while denying funding to groups they disagree with,” stated Oliver Capko’s lawyer, John Carpay.

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For media requests, please contact:
John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, 403-619-8014 or jcarpay@jccf.ca

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

http://kwantlenprotectoresvitae.ncln.ca/

Image taken from the National Post article: 

http://www.ncln.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/oliver-capko-1.jpg

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A Warm Welcome to Anastasia Pearse, NCLN’s New Western Campus Coordinator

Anastasia is grateful to have this opportunity to continue to promote the pro-life cause. She is looking forward to using her experiences to help university pro-life clubs share the pro-life message, a message that is too important not to be heard.

Anastasia has always been pro-life, and what has most confirmed her position has been seeing the development of her siblings from the womb onwards. Being the eldest of 9, she has had plenty of opportunities to see this development. However, it wasn’t until university that she became actively involved in pro-life work. During her five years at the University of Victoria Anastasia was involved in the pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth. As president she worked hard to maintain the club’s status amidst strong pro-choice opposition from their students’ society.

During this time she led the club through a lawsuit, which they filed against their students’ society who had denied Youth Protecting Youth club status because of their stance on abortion. Through her perseverance and support from fellow club members, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and NCLN, the case was settled out of court on the club’s terms, and Anastasia succeeded in keeping a vibrant pro-life presence on campus. Throughout the controversy Anastasia gained invaluable experience coordinating events, creating and presenting appeals, and interacting with the media. It was through encountering such strong opposition to her pro-life beliefs that she truly came to understand the vital importance of the cause, and the necessity of actively furthering it.

Throughout the five years of her university degree the most valuable lessons Anastasia learned were from working with the pro-life club. However, her degree in Recreation and Health Education also provided her with opportunities to promote the pro-life cause, as she spent two work terms with seniors and people with disabilities. Through these experiences she witnessed firsthand how all people have inherent value and beauty, regardless of age or ability.

As Anastasia steps into her role as NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator, she encourages students to keep persevering in their pro-life efforts on campus; we cannot neglect our peers who need to be exposed to our life-affirming message, and we cannot afford to remain silent when so many lives are at stake.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

~Martin Luther King Jr.

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Carleton Lifeline in the news

Carleton Lifeline will appear in court tomorrow as the University attempts to quash their lawsuit, claiming it is “frivolous”.  The press release can be viewed here.

LifeSiteNews.com covered this development in the story here.

Ruth Lobo, the former president of Carleton Lifeline, appearened on Sun News today to discuss the arrests and free speech on campus.   The video clip can be seen here.

 

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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

 

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University of Toronto Students for Life: Carleton Lifeline Sues Carleton University

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by Blaise Alleyne. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Carleton Lifeline has filed a lawsuit against Carleton University and its administration. Five pro-life students were arrested in October for trespassing on their own campus, and later that month the group was intimated further for putting on “Choice” Chain, despite other groups holding similar graphic displays on campus without threat of arrest or non-academic misconduct charges. As the National Post reports, the pro-life club claims that “the administration broke its own codes of conduct regarding human rights and academic freedom as well as violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

You can read the entire statement of claim from their website.

That same eventful month, October 2010, the Pridgen Precendent was set. In ruling against the University of Calgary, Justice Strekaf said that a university campus is “not a Charter free zone” (though it didn’t deal directly with any pro-life student club issues). I believe that ruling is still being appealed. This will be yet another critical case for pro-life students and organizations across Canada. Carleton Lifeline is also still considering legal action against the student union if they continue to discriminate against the club as well. It’s hard to count the number of pro-life clubs under attack across the country in similar ways, so kudos to Ruth Lobo and John McLeod for taking a stand.

And, hey, they’re accepting donations to help cover their legal fees.

Carleton University: We Have a Place for Unpopular Opinions


Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.