CALGARY, Alberta, November 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A judge has acquitted a controversial pro-family activist from a July 2008 charge of trespassing at a Canadian university. William (Bill) Whatcott was arrested by campus security at the University of Calgary and put into a holding cell for distributing a pamphlet that addressed the “harmful consequences” of homosexuality.
Whatcott, in an email to LifeSiteNews, called the ruling a “victory for all Canadians who value freedom of expression and religious liberty on our university campuses.”
Judge J.D. Bascom ruled from the Provincial Court of Alberta on November 15th that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms “applies” to the University of Calgary since “the University is not a Charter free zone.”
Section 2.b of the Charter states that everyone has the “fundamental freedoms [of] thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”
The University had argued that the Charter only applied to “government actors and government actions,” not to the University itself since it was a private entity.
But the judge found that the University carried out “specific” governmental work by providing post-secondary education to the public in Alberta, making its actions subject to scrutiny under the Charter.
“The university is the vehicle through which the government offers individuals the opportunity to participate in the post-secondary education system,” the judge said.
“Mr. Whatcott entered the university property with a purpose to distribute his literature to students, staff and public,” said the judge, adding, “Traditionally, universities have been places for the exchange of ideas” and the “concept of free expression is part of the University of Calgary philosophy.”
“His activity was peaceful and presented no harm to the university structures or those who frequented the campus. … Although Mr. Whatcott’s pamphlet is not scholarly, freedom of speech is not limited to academic works.”
In conclusion, Judge Bascom found that “the means used by campus security halted Mr. Whatcott’s distribution of these flyers and violated his right of free expression.”
The judge also lifted the University’s ban against Whatcott that would have indefinitely prohibited him from setting foot on the campus again, stating that the ban was “arbitrary and unfair.”
“Preventing the peaceful distribution of leaflets that an individual attendee finds offensive does not relate to an objective that is pressing and substantial,” said the judge.
Whatcott argued on his blog that the content of the flier handed out that day— which was not an issue in the case, but which he believes was largely behind the motive for his arrest — was “strongly worded and provocative, but not hateful.”
“Some homosexual activists” he pointed out, “call criticism of any aspect of their sexual practices and political activities ‘hate.’ The ‘hate’ word is so abused and misused to bully people who disagree with leftist agendas and homosexual activism into silence, that the word is almost meaningless in the politically correct context.”
Whatcott says he knows that some are “uncomfortable” with his style of activism, but argues that it is scripturally justified.
“I believe conservatism is good, but sometimes conservatives are so conservative, unimaginative and fearful, they set themselves up to lose in the culture wars and when we lose children suffer, freedom suffers, and foundational Biblical truth suffers.”
Whatcott told the Calgary Herald that he already has plans for visiting other campuses with his pamphlets.
“We were at Carleton University in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago and we’ll be visiting campuses with our point of view in the near future — U of Alberta, U of Calgary, Grant MacEwan. They are all a concern to me. They are very homogenous in the professors they hire, to discriminate against speech that displays conservative Christian values,” he said.