VICTORIA, British Columbia, October 8, 2013 ( – A pro-life club is suing the University of Victoria (UVic) and its Student Society for what it calls the persistent and illegal censorship of civil and peaceful expression of pro-life opinion on campus. 


Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), with the aid of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), filed a constitutional lawsuit against UVic in the BC Supreme Court last week. 

“A university cannot censor students when they deem their views to be unpopular and the promotion of these views to be potentially disconcerting to others,” said former YPY president Cam Côté.

“Freedom of expression is essential to a university, particularly when the issue at hand – abortion – is a matter of life and death for pre-born Canadians,” he said in a press release. 

In January UVic abruptly cancelled an approved YPY Life Chain event the day before it was scheduled to take place. The pro-life club has also suffered the loss of its outdoor booking privileges for a year and club members have been threatened with non-academic misconduct if they participate in future pro-life events. 

While the BCCLA has a long history of pro-abortion advocacy and action — regarding abortion as a civil right — it says it took on YPY’s case because it “regard[s] all attempts to silence dissent through programs of systematic harassment as obnoxious to democracy.” 

“Are those of us who are pro-choice so frightened of civil, peaceful speech against our conviction, that we must take refuge in quasi-legal antics to harass, frighten, and ultimately punish those who dare to challenge them,” said BCCLA’s Dr. John Dixon in a press release. 

The petition to the court claims that the actions of the university against the pro-life club are “unreasonable.” 

“As a matter of deep history, convention and tradition, the freedom of students to gather for the purposes of peaceful collective expression is fundamental to ‘the work of a University,’” the petition states. 

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The lawsuit comes days after the release of a report from the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms that found that 51 percent of Canadian universities have failed to uphold free expression rights on campus. The report gave UVic a “C” for its free speech policies, and an “F” for putting its polices into practice. 

Côté hopes the lawsuit will secure the club’s right to freedom of expression on campus. In the meantime, YPY club members say they continue to be threatened by UVic administration for their peaceful pro-life expression on campus. 


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