BCCLA demands equal treatment for U Vic pro-life club

Vancouver, B.C. – The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is taking up the case of Youth
Protecting Youth (YPY), a pro-life club at the University of Victoria.

Despite repeated appeals by YPY, the UVic Student Society (UVSS) has consistently denied funding to the group on the grounds that its pro-life advocacy is inconsistent with the prochoice position of both the Society and the Canadian Federation of Students, and that it amounts to harassment of women by creating an atmosphere of “ambient violence”. The BCCLA believes that the actions of the UVSS are an infringement of the Charter freedoms of conscience and expression of the YPY group.

“We have always seen academic freedom – freedom from government interference – against the background of the public university as an institution specially devoted to freedom of inquiry and speech,” said BCCLA Director and former President John Dixon. “When the university forgets its core identity by preferring censorship over debate it undermines the legitimacy of its claim to independence, and to that extent, its immunity from Charter scrutiny.”

At the October 5th meeting of the UVSS Board, the Society confirmed its stubborn determination to withhold the funding ordinarily disbursed to clubs, citing particular alarm at YPY plans to hold a public debate between distinguished UVic philosopher Eike-Henner Kluge representing the pro-choice side, and Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform on the pro-life side.

The BCCLA has written to the UVSS, asking for an opportunity to address its Board, in the hope of achieving a resolution. The BCCLA has also sent letters to the President of UVic, the Chancellor of UVic, and the Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, urging them to intervene if the UVSS refuses to relent.

John Dixon, Director, BCCLA (604)788-6634
Rob Holmes, President, (604)681-1310 or (604)838-6856