By Patrick B. Craine
CALGARY, Alberta, November 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The trespassing charges brought against six members of the University of Calgary's pro-life club 'Campus Pro-Life' have been stayed by the Crown prosecutor – a decision that likely means that the charges effectively have been dropped.
The club's president, Leah Hallman, made the announcement at the National Pro-Life Conference in Saskatoon this past weekend, to a standing ovation.
“We are relieved by this decision on the part of the Crown Prosecutor,” she stated in a press release yesterday. “Campus Pro-Life has consistently maintained that all of our actions were in full compliance under the law.”
The students were charged by their university in February 2009 after conducting a pro-life display on the campus in November 2008. The group had done the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), a display using images to compare abortion to past historical atrocities, every semester since 2006.
In previous years, the university had protected their right to put up the display; but it changed its approach last year, initially seeking to have the display facing inward, and then threatening arrests and sanctions. University officials claimed that they were seeking to censor the display based on anonymous complaints and suggestions that the display could provoke violent reactions, despite the fact that there had not been any such incidents in the past.
“When we notified the university that we would be doing GAP in Spring '09,” Hallman told LifeSiteNews.com, “within a week or so of that police started showing up on our doors giving us summons to court.”
The Calgary Police delivered the charges at the students' homes in February. “It was shocking to all of us,” said Hallman.
They each pleaded 'not guilty' on March 16th. At that time Hallman argued: “We have asked the university several times which of its by-laws, policies, regulations or other authority it relies on for censoring our viewpoint, and have received no answer to date.”
The court date was set for tomorrow, November 4th, but the students found out over the past weekend that the charges had been stayed. “Just today we found out that they have stayed the charges,” Hallman told LSN on Saturday, “which essentially means that the Crown could bring them back in within a year, but that, in the past, has been very unlikely, so it essentially means to us that it's been dropped.”
Hallman indicated that they could still face three counts of trespassing, including the stayed charges, because campus security took down their contact information at the GAP display in the spring and when they did it again this fall.
Nevertheless, the group is committed to continue standing up for the right to life. “Campus Pro-Life will continue being a voice for the voiceless,” stated club treasurer Alanna Campbell. “We hope to continue our activities on campus and raise awareness among the next generation of community leaders.”
Dr. Harvey P. Weingarten, President
Administration Building, Room 100
University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4
Email: [email protected]
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Calgary Pro-Life Students Handed Trespassing Notices, Again