By Kathleen Gilbert

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, February 9, 2009 ( – When pro-abortion protesters descended upon a pro-life presentation at St. Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, disrupting the event with chants and yells, the pro-life presenter was astonished that a SMU administration representative, rather than stopping the pro-abortion group, ordered the pro-life presentation to end.

Jose Ruba, co-founder of the pro-life Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and former executive director of the National Campus Life Network, visited SMU Thursday evening as part of a speaking tour to campuses across Canada.  The nascent Students for Life club furnished a room for the presentation, entitled “Echoes of the Holocaust,” through the chaplaincy.

Less than a minute into his speech, however, a group of men and woman entered the room and began loudly chanting, “Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate!” Ruba asked the protesters to save their objections until after his talk, but was drowned out by chants of, “Pro-life men have got to go, when you get pregnant let us know!” and, “No hate speech in our school!”

The protestors especially took issue with Ruba’s comparisons between the millions killed by abortion and the holocaust. They continued to shout until Ruba was forced to type on the projected screen in order to get his message to the audience, which included both pro-life and pro-choice students.  

According to Ruba, campus security did not stop the protests.  After forty minutes of continued shouting, Halifax police were called, who quieted the group, until Ruba began showing pictures of aborted babies, at which point the mob began shouting again. 

The police threatened the protesters with arrest. Instead, however, the pro-life presentation was shut down by an administration official before action could be taken against the protesters.

“What looks worse, shutting down a university-approved presentation or arresting people who are unlawfully disrupting that presentation?” asked Ruba, who said he was appalled the university gave in to mob rule.

“St. Mary’s should be ashamed of itself for showing students they need only scream when they don’t like something, rather than dialogue respectfully.” Ruba claimed that in his eight years of speaking he has never been met with such hostility.

The presentation relocated to private property at the nearby Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church, where Ruba was able to finish without incident.

One audience member caught the first five minutes of the disruption on video, which is now posted on Youtube (  Further video footage is expected to be uploaded on Youtube soon.

According to an article in the Chronicle Herald, Lesley-Anne Steeleworthy, chairwoman of the board at SMU’s women’s centre at the university, said her group is considering a human rights complaint against the chaplain for allowing the talk in the first place.

“The chaplain is supposed to be there for all students on campus, and yet he’s advocating anti-choice,” Ms. Steeleworthy said.

Ruba told that the comparisons between the legalized killing of abortion to the Holocaust, which comparisons the protestors objected so strongly to, are inevitable.

“If the unborn are not human beings, then comparisons to the Holocaust are insensitive,” said Ruba.  “Really that’s the crux of the question that we need to ask them: are they [unborn children] human beings?  In order for them to accuse us of being hateful, they have to prove that the unborn are not human beings. And they don’t want to engage in that debate.”

Ruba also noted that if there had been no Catholic Church nearby, the presentation would have been permanently silenced.

“A lot of the students who came to ask questions were pro-choice students,” he said, noting that he welcomed the peaceful questions from pro-choicers that arose after the talk. Of the protestors he said, “We were willing to listen to them, they were not willing to listen to us.”

Calls and emails made by (LSN) to SMU’s women’s center, conflict resolution office, and chaplaincy were not answered as of press time.

Saint Mary’s University was established in 1802 by the Jesuits, the Roman Catholic Community of Halifax, and the Irish Christian Brothers.  In 1970 the Jesuits formally gave all administrative and academic duties to the Board of Governors and Academic Senate.

To contact St. Mary’s University:

Dr. J. Colin Dodds, President
McNally Main 118A
923 Robie Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 3C3 Canada
(902) 420-5401
[email protected]