OTTAWA, March 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Conservative MP Leon Benoit spoke out in Parliament on March 6 denouncing the censorship of pro-life students in Canadian universities.
“Universities in Canada are often thought of as the bastions of free speech and expression. Certainly they are the last places where censorship should occur. I wish this were true, but sadly, it is not,” Mr. Benoit stated.
“When it comes to some of the most sensitive issues, such as pro-life issues, many universities are exactly the opposite.”
Mr. Benoit reminded the House of the arrest under a charge of trespassing of pro-life students at Ottawa’s Carleton University on October 4, 2010, for conducting a peaceful pro-life demonstration on the university campus.
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“When students at Ottawa’s Carleton University put up a pro-life display, some students found the photos offensive and complained. I expect that most Canadians would find such photos offensive but that was the point the group was making: that abortion and particularly late stage abortion is offensive,” Mr. Benoit said.
“What is of concern is how the university reacted. It demanded that the group remove its display and then charged the students when they refused.”
Mr. Benoit also brought Parliament’s attention to a more recent denial of freedom of speech at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.
“Similar censorship has occurred at universities in Toronto, Calgary, Fredericton and, most recently, Victoria where students are banned from carrying out pro-life activities and were forced to apologize to groups that were offended by their display,” Mr. Benoit pointed out.
On February 6, 2012, the UVic Student’s Society (UVSS) passed two motions that effectively censored the activities of Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the campus’ official pro-life club.
The UVic Student’s Society found the pro-life club guilty of “harassment” in violation of the UVSS Harassment Policy after they received complaints last November regarding the content of YPY’s “Choice” Chain demonstration, and a complaint about posters produced by the National Campus Life Network the YPY had displayed on campus in October. The posters compared the treatment of Canada’s pre-born, who are currently deemed non-persons, with the similar treatment of other minority groups in the past, including African Americans, Natives, Women, and Jews.
UVSS stripped the pro-life club of their right to book public space on campus for their events, has forbidden the club to hold “Choice” Chain demonstrations or events similar to it, and ordered the pro-life club to apologize to those who were offended by the posters.
“I call on all universities,” Mr. Benoit concluded, “to truly become places where students and society can count on free speech and free expression being allowed and, in fact, encouraged.”
Mr. Benoit is well known as the proponent of an unsuccessful unborn victims of violence bill (C-291) in 2006 that would have seen murderers of pregnant women charged with the death of the unborn child as well as his or her mother. The bill was quashed when it was deemed non-votable by a parliamentary subcommittee.
To contact Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC)