HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, February 16, 2009 ( – Saint Mary’s University philosophy professor Mark Mercer said the school gave in to mob rule when it allowed a pro-abortion group to shout down and finally silence a pro-life presentation by Jose Ruba, co-founder of the pro-life Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Last week LifeSiteNews reported on the disruption of Mr. Ruba’s presentation by the abortion supporters who, less than a minute into his talk, entered the room and began shouting and constantly interrupting the presentation.

According to Mr. Ruba, campus security did not stop the protests.  After forty minutes of continued shouting, Halifax police were called and threatened the protesters with arrest, but before action could be taken against the protesters, the pro-life presentation was stopped by a university administration official.

Prof. Mercer said the protesters should have been disciplined for their actions and the university should have let Mr. Ruba continue his presentation.

“I don’t want to defend what he said as non-hate speech because I think that’s irrelevant,” Mercer told the Chronicle Herald. “Even if he was saying ‘Black people suck,’ people who shout him down should be carried away.”

Prof. Mercer defended the concept of a university as a place of free expression of ideas, inquiry and understanding, and decried the university administration’s reaction to the approved presentation.

“The goal of our institution is understanding, but part of that is discussion,” he said. “If someone says something, we don’t interrupt.”

It was reported that the pro-life presentation relocated to private property at the nearby Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church after university administration refused to let it continue on campus.

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

VP of external affairs at Saint Mary’s, Chuck Bridges, said the university did not give in to mob rule, but allowed the presentation to take place at the nearby church instead.

“It’s important to clarify … that the lecture was not shut down,” he told the Chronicle Herald. “When we saw the level of emotional engagement from those on both sides of the discussion, we felt it better that rather than having people face disciplinary action, that we would defuse the situation by allowing a bit of a cooling off and moving it to another location a building away.”

Prof. Mercer, however, maintained that the entire lecture should have taken place on campus, and that Mr. Ruba’s comparison between abortion and the Holocaust, the mass murder of six million Jews, was not the issue.

What does matter, Prof. Mercer said, was that Jose Ruba was silenced.

“We’re not to silence anybody on campus, not to prevent people from listening, not to prevent people from expressing themselves.”

See previous coverage:

Pro-Life Event at St. Mary’s U Told to Disband after Protesters Disrupt

Contact St. Mary’s University with your opinion:

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