30 October 2008

Pro-life Campus Groups

UPDATE (Oct 31 3:20pm): I just received an e-mail saying the same thing has happened at the University of Victoria. See here for the story. If you would like to contact them to express your displeasure, here's the information:

UVic Students' Society
University of Victoria
PO Box 3035 STN CSC
Victoria, BC V8W 3P
Ph: (250) 472-4317
Fax: (250) 472-4851

It's happening again. University campuses, which are supposed to be bastions of free speech, are attempting to silence opinions that they don't agree with. On 21 October 2008 the University of Guelph's Central Student Association (CSA) refused to allow Guelph's pro-life club, Life Choice campus club status. See here for the original story. Yesterday, after almost 5h of debate, the CSA put the motion over for another week. Not only did they not make a decision, the CSA felt the atmosphere in the room was "unsafe" and moved its members to an in-camera session to finish the debate.

Life Choice was denied club status on the basis of last year's "Life Fair." It was alleged that "people had been harassed physically and handed offensive literature at the Life Fair." However, the life fair was last March, and the club was never made aware of complaints- at least, not until the CSA yanked their club status. See here for info on last night's meeting.

I encourage everyone to write to the CSA and express your feelings at this denial of free speech.

Central Student Association
Room 274, University Centre
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 2W1
phone: 519-824-4120 ext. 56748
email: csatalk@uoguelph.ca

The pro-lifers at Guelph are facing the same battle that many other campuses have fought- McGill, York, Carleton and Capilano to name just a few. Always, the allegations are the same- essentially that the club's very existence offends the student union's rules around women's fundamental right to make their own choices. This is garbage, and we all know it. Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives every Canadian the right to free speech. These clubs are simply exercising their right to free speech and association- a right that was upheld (shockingly) by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. While a Human Rights Tribunal carries no precedential value, a quasi-judicial body has upheld the right of pro-life clubs to exist on university campuses. And yet, despite that, University Student Unions feel they have the right to muzzle free speech on their campuses. That is wrong.

The expression of pro-life views is not hate speech.

The expression of pro-life views is not intolerance.

The expression of pro-life views does not violate women's rights.

The expression of pro-life views merely gives the unborn a voice. Isn't giving a voice to the vulnerable an action that should be supported?

Abortion is not a legal right in Canada, no matter what anyone argues. It is a practice that has absolutely NO laws governing it; one way or the other. Speech around abortion can never violate the law because there is no law. Thankfully my pro-life group has never had to face a challenge to its club status, but my prayers are with Guelph Life Choice's members and all people who advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

All of us have a duty to speak out whenever free speech is muzzled, because if we don't, one day it we will be muzzled, and there will be no one there to save us. Please take a few minutes to contact the CSA and local Guelph papers. If we don't speak, who will?

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