Human Rights Tribunal: Religious Freedom Not Violated by Campus Ban on Pro-Life Club
By Hilary White
VANCOUVER, January 22, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Two separate Human Rights Commission complaints launched by student pro-life groups in British Columbia have received rulings. The struggles of pro-life university students to be allowed to present their views on campus has drawn the fire of some major legal players in British Columbia.
John Hof, head of Campaign Life Coalition in the province said students groups facing discrimination on campus should stay away from Canada’s government appointed Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals.
In Kelowna, pro-life students at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan had their request to form a campus club refused by the student union and launched a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The Tribunal ruled that since the pro-life position is not specifically a religious one, a complaint claiming discrimination based on religious beliefs would fail.
However, at Capilano College in North Vancouver, a request by the college and the student union to dismiss the complaint has been denied and the complaint can be heard by the Tribunal.
Hof told LifeSiteNews.com that the entire system is corrupt and weighted against any Christian position. He said he is appalled that the Human Rights Tribunals would bring out "big name anti-Christian" lawyers in a case involving two small groups of students.
The lawyers in the two complaints, appointed by the Tribunals, were Donald Crane, who opposed pro-life groups in all the legal wrangling over the so-called "bubble zone" protests in BC. The other was Barbara Findlay, who represented Little Sisters, Vancouver’s homosexual bookstore that took their demand to bring homosexual pornography into Canada to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, pro-life students at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay Ontario are considering a complaint of religious discrimination at the Ontario Human Rights Commission against the student union that refused to ratify their group as an official campus club. The National Post quotes Francisco Gomez Jimenez, of LU Life Support, saying, "That’s probably what’s coming". He called the treatment of his group by the student union "thoroughly discriminatory".
But Hof said a strategy of "turning the tables" by using the Human Rights Commissions is bound to backfire and that students seeking redress should file suits in the legitimate courts making a legal claim that their Charter-protected rights to free speech have been denied by their universities. The Human Rights Commissions, he told LifeSiteNews.com are designed to do the opposite of protect freedoms. "Human Rights complaints in this country are about politically correct speech, and have nothing to do with human rights," he said.
David Warren, a prominent Canadian journalist who has been observing the development of the Human Rights Commission for decades, concurs. He warns in recent columns in the Ottawa Citizen that "Canada’s ‘human rights’ commissions were designed to be abused". The HRCs are little more than, "kangaroo courts and star chambers designed to silence the politically incorrect, without any of the inherited checks of a legitimate legal system."
Warren relates the story of those who have attempted to use the "human rights machinery" to lodge complaints about attacks in the media on Christians and conservatives.
"Their complaints were invariably dismissed by the tribunals on sight, and yet by making them they contributed to legitimizing the process by which free speech could be ‘reviewed,’ as a matter of course, by their most deadly enemies."
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Canadian University Bans Pro-life Club after Farcical Vote
National Post Editorial Slams Student Councils Denying Status to Campus Pro-Life Groups