Tuesday October 12, 2010

Canadian MP Decries ‘Censorship’ at Carleton U over Pro-Life Arrests

By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, October 12, 2010 ( – A Canadian Member of Parliament has decried what he termed the “censorship” at Ottawa’s Carleton University, following the arrest last week of five pro-life students who were attempting to erect a pro-life display.

“Free speech is a foundational principle for Canada’s free and democratic society. Academic freedom, a key aspect of freedom of speech, has long been protected and promoted in Canadian universities,” said Maurice Vellacott, MP for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin.

The students – four from Carleton and one from Queen’s University – were arrested for trespassing around 9:00 a.m. last Monday. They were preparing to set up the Genocide Awareness Project, which compares abortion to past atrocities through graphic imagery, as a protest in the university’s Tory Quad. The university had denied them the use of that central outdoor location, instead telling them that they could only set up the display in an out-of-the-way campus building.

After the arrests, Carleton’s director of communications Jason MacDonald told media that student displays are “not normally permitted” in that area. But when the students and their lawyer pointed out that the space is bookable and has been used by other student groups in the past, MacDonald admitted that the real issue was “the nature of the content.”

According to Vellacott, the university’s actions reveal Carleton’s double standard in treating the free speech rights of pro-lifers. He said the students are following in the footsteps of great civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King.

“I urge Carleton University to preserve speech freedom on their campus, to encourage dialogue and debate, rather than censorship, and to demonstrate integrity by treating these pro-life students in the same way they treat other student campaigners on campus,” he said.

“University officials should show respect for, and confidence in, their students by allowing them to participate in this debate rather than censoring one side of the controversy,” he added.

Contact Information:

Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and Vice-Chancellor

503 Tory Building

1125 Colonel By Drive

Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada

Tel: 613 520-3801

Fax: 613 520-4474

Email: [email protected]

See related coverage:

Carleton University Rep.: Pro-Life Students Arrested for Trespassing because of Content

Five Canadian Pro-Life University Students Arrested for Setting up Display

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