The “Pridgen Precedent:’ The Charter Does Apply to Universities

As posted by Rebecca Richmond on the National Campus Life Network webpage.

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By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

Yesterday’s ruling by Madam Justice J. Strekaf in Pridgen v. University of Calgary did not concern abortion or pro-life university students.  But I still cheered when I heard the news that Keith and Steven Pridgen had won their case.

Why?  Because the ruling clearly states that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does protect the freedom of speech of students on their university campus.

As Justice Strekaf said,

“I am satisfied that the University is not a Charter free zone.  The Charter does apply in respect of the disciplinary proceedings taken by the University against the Applicants [Keith and Steven Pridgen]….While the University is free to construct policies dealing with student behaviour which may ultimately impact access to the post-secondary system, the manner in which those policies are interpreted and applied must not offend the rights provided under the Charter.”

For more information on the specifics of the Pridgen’s case, see the Calgary Herald’s article.

The ruling is good news for the Pridgens.  It’s great news, as well, for pro-life students across Canada who have faced, or will face, discrimination from university administrations and student unions because of their pro-life message.

University administrations and student unions should take note of this ruling – especially the University of Calgary and Carleton University, which seem to have a particularly hard time respecting free speech rights of students, at least when it comes to pro-life students.  Justice Strekaf’s ruling sets a clear precedent.  Students do have free speech rights on campus and they have the law on their side.

What Else Is At Stake?

By Margaret Stephenson

After 5 students were arrested at Carleton while setting up a pro-life display on campus it seems that our knee-jerk reaction is to denounce the university administration for censoring pro-life rhetoric on campus.

Such censorship should be condemned.

A clear message was sent by Carleton University’s administration: abortion is taboo. Don’t mention it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t protest it. And for heaven’s sake don’t show pictures of it!

But something else is going on here, something that bloggers, on-lookers, and protest-participants decried immediately. Carleton University infringed upon the students’ right to exercise their freedom of speech.

I first heard news of the arrests from my sister (president of uOttawa Students for Life) on Monday morning, just before 10am. I was shocked but not surprised. After all, I had just spent the weekend talking about such incidents with a group of incredible pro-life students from across Canada (where I had the privilege to meet 2 of the brave students arrested). But how frustrating to be in St Catharines, dependent upon sporadic text messages for news from the “front,” instead of in Ottawa! 

I couldn’t help but talk to nearly everyone about the arrests. The first friend I encountered on campus got an earful about the goings-on at Carleton. Much to my annoyance (profound annoyance) her support for the students vanished as soon as I mentioned it was a pro-life protest. …so then does the content of the speech/expression determine whether or not it may be freely spoken/displayed?  Or do we live under a stable, democratic, constitutional monarchy that provides for the freedom of expression?

Today Michael Coren invited his panelists to discuss just that question on his TV show. It’s worth a watch: http://www.ctstv.com/michaelcoren/

Getting the Discussion Started

I’ve been thinking of a topic for a blog post since Margaret kindly came up with this concept for our club. It has been difficult for me, to say the least. To be perfectly honest, I do not have much experience in expressing my pro-life view with words. I have always known that abortion is wrong, but I haven’t given much thought to why, exactly. Certainly it isn’t a bi-product of partisan politics, since I was pro-life long before having any conservative political views (in fact, I was a self-described communist/anarchist during most of my teenage years). I suppose what really made up my mind was the fact that in Canada we do not have any laws regulating when exactly a fetus becomes ‘viable’ and therefore a human being. It is a troubling thought that a full-term, 9-month old fetus can have its head impaled and be ripped out of the womb by a doctor who, presumably, feels absolutely no moral reprehension regarding this greusome ending of its life. Such is the case in Canada where such late-term abortion legal. I have not read any polls on the subject (much as I have faith in Canada’s professional pollsters, I doubt many would take on such a job), but I’m positive that the majority of Canadians would find this sort of late-term barbarism appalling. I’m also positive that any such poll would reveal that the vast majority assume that cases of full-term abortion are illegal in Canada, as they should be. Therein lies the key for the pro-life movement as I see it in this nation. Once we get people thinking about the utter wrongness of full-term abortions, the next logical question is when exactly a fetus should be considered a viable human being. Of course putting an exact figure on that, as they do in most Western countries, would then raise the question of what that means for the fetus only one day short of the cutoff date. Is the 22-week 6-day fetus no less a person than the 23-week fetus? And what about the 22-week 5-day fetus? And so on. If only a person looks at the situation with such logic, the only fair position to take would then be to side with life in all cases, as we in BSFL do. This, my first humble post among such intellectual giants as Matt, James (and James), Andrew, Stephanie, and Margaret, will hopefully not be my last. The important thing is getting the discussion started. Right-minded Canadians will do the rest of our jobs for us.

Are you “in” or “out”? Your life may depend on it.

By Andrew Korchok

I recently read an article about a woman in Vancouver who was charged with the murder of her two newborn sons, both killed shortly after their birth, their bodies hidden and left to rot. One quote that particularly struck me was from Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke, who said “Few incidents are more tragic than the death of a child but when that death is allegedly at the hands of the mother, it is unimaginable. And when it is two children, it is incomprehensible,” True words indeed; our society abhors and decries the senseless murder of our children  – born ones, that is.

The article goes on to mention that the suspect is facing second-degree murder charges, which hold a maximum sentence of life in prison, rather than infanticide, which only holds a maximum sentence of five years. Yes, this is so heinous and deplorable a crime that it carries the possibility of life in prison. And well it should! What mother could possibly be so evil-minded as to take the lives of two of her newborn babies? Why, she ought to be put away for all eternity!

I’m sure you already know where I’m going with this. Despite reviling in disgust at the thought of a mother killing her own newborn sons, we still turn a blind eye to the thousands upon thousands of abortions performed every year in hospitals and clinics, leaving one to ask what, exactly, is the difference? Why do we shake our heads in abject shock, mouths agape, at the bone-chilling sight of a police officer carrying a body bag the size of a purse, and yet at the same time defend with great ardour a woman’s right to reach inside her womb and choke out with the hand of hypocrisy the vibrant growing life within her, leaving only the dead, rotting remnants of a terminated life in it’s place? Are we truly arrogant enough to believe that the walls of a woman’s womb can shield our eyes from the culture of death we’re promoting?

Or do we believe that there truly is a difference between those still safe and protected in their mother’s bellies, and those who have been thrust out into this world of harm and danger? The victims of this horrible murder were not pre-schoolers or toddlers. They could not speak, nor walk, nor feed or sustain themselves. They were helpless, defenseless newborns, physically no different from when they were in their mother’s womb. Are we expected to believe that this child has every right to live in a world of death and danger, and no right to live in the world of his mother’s womb, a world of safety, protection and new life?

Logically, it makes little sense. But of course the paths of humans and those of logic rarely, if ever, meet. We are not swayed at heart by twisting reason or philosophical arguments. We are swayed when we are faced with stories like this. We are moved when we are confronted with the ugly face of death and murder, replete in all its publicized glory which only serves to make it that much more palpable. We are convinced when we feel in our hearts and see with our eyes, the loss of human life and the grief that it brings.

This is why we as pro-lifers must never lose sight of the humanity of our situation. Abortionists will use every tool in their arsenal to deprive the act of abortion of all humanity. They hide behind medical terms and quaint euphemisms that reduce the act of murdering a child to a simple and routine medical procedure. They hide behind the walls of hospitals and clinics, places of healing and life-saving, all in an effort to convince the world, and themselves, that the act of abortion is a safe, effective and acceptable way to improve and control their own lives. The children they terminate are not worthy of such a title. After all, they cannot hear a fetus’ screams; they cannot see the unborn being carried away in body bags; they cannot see the look of terror and regret in the mother’s eyes as she is paraded before the media, her heinous crime broadcasted for all the world to see and condemn. All of this is hidden behind sterile hospital doors and euphemistic medical terms.

We however, must cling to our humanity, and attempt to share that humanity with others. We must expose to the world the true casualties of abortion: those whose lives have been shattered, and those whose lives have been erased. We must reach out with heartfelt sympathy to those women and those families who have been hurt by abortion, as well as those who are about to be hurt by it. We argue our case most effectively not when we resort to logical, moral and philosophical arguments in an attempt to confound and confuse our opponents, but when we put on display our love for humanity and our love for life. We do our job best when we show the world that we’re not here to win an argument; we’re here to save lives.

Abortion in the News

By James Carnegie

If you haven’t noticed lately, the issue of abortion is gaining more and more coverage in our country each day. While abortion has never been a ‘quiet’ issue, its public and political discussion has reached somewhat of a peak recently, which is ironic considering Prime Minister Harper’s intention to keep the abortion debate silenced with regard to Canadian politics. What sparked this increase in discussion? It could easily be pinpointed to Liberal Party leader Ignatieff’s recommendation that abortion be included in the G8 plan as a form of maternal health and Harper’s subsequent denial of the suggestion. But, south of the border abortion has been an area of contention for months now as President Obama moved to create health care, including publicly funded abortion, in the United States. Although it has been made to appear otherwise, the health care bill does include abortion.

And now, a few months after the passing of the health care bill in the US, the abortion debate has found its way into Canadian politics. Perhaps Ignatieff was trying to use abortion as a political tactic, having seen its success in Obama’s presidency with its inclusion in the health care bill. Harper’s approach seems to be the opposite in the sense that abortion could lead to the weakening of public support for his Prime Ministership. While there are certainly other factors affecting our politicians in their decisions concerning abortion, abortion has primarily become a political device, having been stripped of any moral implication.

When Prime Minister Harper refused to include abortion in the G8 plan it seemed to be a step in the right direction but more recent statements have shown that this was not the case. A recent bill introduced by Rod Bruinooge (MP, Winnipeg South), called Roxanne’s law, is meant to protect women against coercive abortion. Bill C-510 would make it illegal to force women into having an abortion against their will. Roxanne Fernando, from whom the bill takes its name, was an immigrant from the Philippines who was was beaten to death by her boyfriend and two of his friends because she refused to abort her child. While this bill is not directly an attempt to protect the unborn, it would protect the pregnant woman who wishes to to keep her child. In the heat of debate and the introduction of Bill C-510 , Mr. Harper has said, “I will oppose any attempt to create a new abortion law.” With this statement the PM is officially opposing the protection of both mother and child, furthering the abortion-debate-as-political-device argument.

While the abortion debate has certainly been mistreated, the introduction of Bill C-510 by Rod Bruinooge, chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, and the existence of the Pro-Life Caucus itself are signs that there is a need for change in Canadian law concerning issues of life. The recent defeat of a Liberal motion to include funding for abortion at the G8 Summit by the Conservatives, including some Liberal votes, is another hopeful sign. Furthermore, we as Canadian citizens are not merely onlookers to the decisions made in parliament but can play an active role in how our Members of Parliament vote. We are represented by our MP’s and so it is prudent to inform your MP of your opinion on life issues through letters, e-mails, and by signing petitions.

LifeSiteNews article quoting PM Harper:“Canadian PM Harper Opposes Law Protecting Women from Coercive Abortions”

Learn about Roxanne’s law: http://www.roxanneslaw.ca/

Sign the Roxanne’s Law Petition: http://roxanneslaw.ca/WhatYouCanDo.html