I am sure there was a thread that I wanted to post this into, but couldn't find it.
Carleton students bar anti-abortion groups
Denied funding, space on campus
Katie Rook, National Post; with files from CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, December 07, 2006
Carleton University's student council has voted to deny funding to campus anti-abortion groups.
A carefully worded policy amendment, passed on Tuesday night during a council meeting, also bars student groups with anti-choice mandates from council-managed spaces. "What we were speaking out against is those anti-choice behaviours that the majority of students feel are very discriminatory towards women," said Shawn Menard, president of Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA).
"Where we draw the line in terms of anti-choice is that anti-choice is a stance that aims to limit or remove a woman's right to choose her best option in the case of pregnancy.
"Anti-choice often wishes to use the law to force women to bring unwanted pregnancy to term and they usually advocate for the recriminalization of abortion or a return to the board-granted abortion process," he said, adding the students' association did not want to fund that kind of activity.
Mr. Menard denied the amendment targeted specific campus groups, but council was widely criticized last week when Carleton Lifeline, a fledgling student group identifying itself as pro-life, claimed such a policy amendment was discriminatory.
The newly approved policy reads: "CUSA further affirms that actions such as campaigns, distributions, solicitations, lobbying efforts, displays, events, etc. that seek to limit or remove a woman's options in the event of pregnancy will not be supported."
The amendment passed by a vote of 26-5.
Don Hutchinson, general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, was one of about 150 people who attended Tuesday night's debate and said council failed to distinguish between anti-choice and pro-life.
"Basically, [Carleton Lifeline is] being told they can be pro-life, but they can never speak out and suggest that Canada should have an abortion law which the Supreme Court of Canada has said is a decision to be made by Parliament," Mr. Hutchinson said. "It is fair to say abide by [council] rules, but those rules have to be fair and equal in their treatment of everyone, and it's not fair and equal to single out groups that hold a position that is open to free discussion in our society and to say that free discussion is not permitted on a university campus."
The faith-based advocacy group is threatening to take CUSA to court over the policy, contemplating seeking a court injunction to block the student association policy from being implemented.
The Evangelical Fellowship has also offered legal representation to Carleton Lifeline should it launch a human rights complaint against CUSA. Carleton Lifeline had previously claimed their rights to freedom of speech under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were being infringed.
Martha Jackman, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Ottawa, questioned how the Charter might be relevant to the controversy.
"Essentially, a claim that a Charter right has been breached can only be brought against an entity that is part of the government, for the purposes of the Charter: The government, the state, the government or its delegates," Prof. Jackman said. "Clearly the Carleton student association is not government. They are a private student organization, but the question can still be raised is Carleton University the government or a government delegate?"
Another case of freedom of speech for me, but not so much for you? I wonder what the uproar would have been like if it was funding for a liberal driven organization was being denied?
Any thoughts from our resident Canuckians?