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National Campus Life Network > Blog > University of Toronto

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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University of Toronto Students for Life: Tale of the Tape: Stephanie Gray

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

Yesterday we profiled Dr. Donald Ainslie in our lead-up to our debate next Monday night! Now I will highlight Dr. Ainslie’s opponent for the evening – Stephanie Gray:

EDUCATION

2008–2009 Certification, with Distinction, in Health Care Ethics, U.S. National Catholic Bioethics Center

1998–2002 Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia

AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION

Scientific and philosophical defense for the pro-life view (basic and advanced) and approaches for effective dialogue

Debates

Christian-based motivational presentations

Strategy for the pro-life movement

Organizing and conducting visual displays (e.g., the Genocide Awareness Project [GAP])

Speakers training

Fundraising training

Other Credentials:

- President of Lifeline, the University of British Columbia’s pro-life club from 1999–2001

- Guest on television programs such as CTV, VTV, and ATV News, Global News, 100 Huntley Street’s Listen Up, and the Miracle Channel’s Insight

- Interviewed by ABC-, NBC-, FOX-, and CBS-affiliated television news programs throughout the Midwest of the United States

This is going to be an epic night. I will post all of the details of the debate tomorrow. Don’t miss it!


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

University of Toronto Students for Life: Tale of the Tape: Dr. Donald Ainslie

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

UTSFL would first like to thank Dr. Ainslie for being a part of the most spectacular spectacle (does that make sense?) that U of T has ever seen: Debate 2011! Abortion: Human Right or Human Rights Violation? Please mark off March 14, 2011 on your calendar and join us for what promises to be a great night of debating (venue still to be determined by our fearless leader Lucy). Here are the goods on Dr. Donald Ainslie:

Education: BSc (Mathematics, Queen’s), MA, PhD (Pittsburgh)

Associate Professor

Professor Ainslie has research interests in the philosophy of David Hume, naturalism in ethics, and the foundation of bioethics.

Selected Articles

“Hume a Scotish Socrates?”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33(1). 2003.
“AIDS and Sex: Is Warning a Moral Obligation?”, Health Care Analysis 10(1). 2002.
“Bioethics And The Problem Of Pluralism”, Social Philosophy and Policy 19(2). 2002.
“Hume’s reflections on the identity and simplicity of mind”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62(3). 2001.
“Scepticism about persons in Book II of Hume’s Treatise”, Journal of the History of Philosophy 37(3). 1999.
“The Problem of the National Self in Hume’s Theory of Justice”, Hume Studies 21(2). 1995.
Tomorrow: Stephanie Gray

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

Imagine listening to this all day…

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

I’m not very familiar with the campus at the University of Toronto, but I had no trouble finding what I was looking for yesterday.  I don’t think anyone within a 2 block radius could have missed the ruckus that was the street corner in front of the library at the U of T.

University of Toronto Students for Life were there, peacefully holding signs, handing out pamphlets on the pro-life position, engaging people in dialogue on the issue of abortion.









Pro-choicers were there too.  With large banners they tried to block the pro-life signs.  They handed out brochures entitled “10 LIES that ANTI CHOICE groups are telling you about abortion.”  They called the pro-lifers names.  And, with a megaphone, they chanted from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  I’m quite familiar with their chants and am always surprised by the fact that, despite decades and decades of chanting, they still resort to the same old ‘classics’.

“NOT THE CHURCH, NOT THE STATE.  WOMEN MUST DECIDE THEIR FATE,” they yelled, making it hard to hear above the din.  If they really believed that women should decide their fate, they shouldn’t have a problem with women discussing the issue.  Nor should they have a problem with the many female pro-life students making their views on abortion known.

“GET YOUR ROSARIES OFF OUR OVARIES!”  they yelled, apparently not noticing that the club is non-religious, that the club members never appealed to religion, and that there wasn’t a rosary in sight.

“HEY HEY MISTA MISTA!  GET YOUR LAWS OFF MY SISTA!”  they chanted.  One pro-life student turned to me and posed an apt question: “What laws are they talking about?  Last time I checked, Canada had no abortion laws.”

Sadly most of the pro-choicers refused to talk with the students about abortion.  “I’m not talking to you about this!” was heard over and over again.  And when they barged into conversations between pro-lifers and students passing by, the pro-choicers made unfounded allegations (apparently we’re in league with firebombing an abortion clinic?!) and refused to listen to anything the pro-life students had to say.

Fortunately, many other students were willing to talk, and had good discussions with the club members on the issue of abortion. Many weren’t interested in talking or were off to a class, but walked away holding a brochure which outlines and defends the pro-life position on abortion.  Countless others had to at least consider the issue, as they walked past.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how loud the opposition is.  Because    at the end of the day, you can’t drown out the truth.

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University of Toronto Students for Life: Epigenetics and the sanctity of life

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

This past Tuesday, Dr. Clem Persaud was on the U of T campus and gave a talk regarding epigenetics and its relationship to the life issues. I will give a summary of the talk and then give a little bit of commentary.

Basically, epigenetics is a new wave of science dealing with gene expression. It is now becoming more apparent that things in our environment, such as stress, the food we eat, exercise and maybe even plants in a classroom can change the way in which our genes are expressed. These changes can affect our health and even how we act and think. Dr. Persaud gave some intriguing studies demonstrating epigenetics and its effects on gene expression (these effects can even span two or three generations!).

What does all of this have to do with the sanctity of life? Well, Dr. Persaud mentioned the abortion-breast cancer link and health defects in IVF babies. In the first case, a full-term pregnancy, according to Dr. Persaud, protects a woman from breast cancer. Inversely, an interrupted pregnancy, such as abortion, can increase the risk of breast cancer. The reason for this is that during pregnancy the woman has a high level of estrogen. Once a pregnancy is interrupted, this high level of estrogen has no where to go and can influence gene expression, potentially leading to the generation of cancer cells.

In the second example of IVF babies, Dr. Persaud mentioned that defects occur during the prepartion of the embryo before implantation into the womb. The manipulations of the embryo during the IVF process can lead to changes in gene expression, leading to birth and health defects of the IVF baby.

My commentary:

Dr. Persaud was both engaging and intriguing while discussing the topic of epigenetics. I was impressed that he could take something as complex as epigenetics and turn it into a presentation that everyone understood and enjoyed. From what Dr. Persaud discussed, epigenetics could be another avenue in science that shows how treating life as a means to an end (such as IVF and abortion) can lead to negative consequences. UTSFL thanks Dr. Persaud for a great talk!


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

University of Toronto Students for Life: And now a public announcement

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

Brought to you by our good friend Madeleine Gubbels:

The University of Toronto is offering information sessions on pregnancy,
giving birth, and parenting during this school year (2010/11). To register,
follow this link: http://www.familycare.utoronto.ca/events/#Moms-to-Be

*Expectant & New Moms’ Group
*Dates: Wednesdays, twice a month, as per the dates below
Time: 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Location: TBA

Are you pregnant or have recently given birth? Do you feel like there are
many things you would like to learn about your body, your baby, and what
comes next? Learn more about pregnancy and life with a new baby with guest
speakers, other moms-to-be and new moms. Ask questions, relax and chat about
what is important for you now.

Come to:

- gain insight into various aspects of pregnancy, including: health,
nutrition, changes in your developing body, emotional and physical changes,
labor and delivery, and post-partum issues.
- find support and access resources.
- exchange ideas and stories regarding various aspects of pregnancy and
life with baby.

Pregnant & postnatal students, staff, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and
their babies are welcome to attend. Pre-registration required. Expectant and
New Moms’ Group is a collaborative initiative of the Family Care Office and
the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing.

Program Facilitators: Jody Macdonald, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing
and Kathryn Haworth, Health Promotion Coordinator, Health Services, Student
Life

Session dates and its themes:

September 29 – *Stages of Pregnancy* (Facilitator: Dr. Geraldine MacDonald,
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing)

October 13 – *Birthing Hopes & Fears* (Facilitator: Dr. Geraldine MacDonald,
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing)

October 27 – *Pregnancy and Relationships: Keeping them Healthy* (Cheryl
Champagne, CAPS)

November 10 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies
(facilitated by a past group participant)

November 24 – *Feeding Your Baby* (Facilitator: Dr. Geraldine MacDonald,
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing)

2011:

January 12 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies
(facilitated by a past group participant)

January 26 – *Breastfeeding 101* (Guest speaker: Dr. Jack Newman, M.D.)

February 9 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies
(facilitated by a past group participant)

February 23 – *How To Care For Self and The Baby* (Guest Speaker: TBA)

March 16 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies (facilitated
by a past group participant)
March 30 – *Adjustment to Life With Baby* (Guest Speaker: TBA)


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