BC Supreme Court Rules in UBCO Pro Life Club Case
In a decision that could act as a green light for student unions to censor other pro life clubs in BC and perhaps the rest of Canada, Justice Wong of the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled against a petition brought on behalf of 2 pro life students at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. The students were seeking to overturn a BC Human Rights Commission decision to dismiss the students’ complaint that the student union acted in a discriminatory fashion in refusing to ratify a pro life club club on campus.
The matter was deferred to a special general meeting at which members of the student body voted to deny the group club status. Justice Wong determined that the Tribunal’s decision to dismiss the complaint brought against UBCSUO was not inappropriate, arbitrary, or based on irrelevant facts. He cited the use of offensive material – namely a film and pamphlet originating from the Centre for Bioethical Reform’s ‘Genocide Awareness Project’ – on the part of Students for Life as appropriate justification for the refusal of club status.
In even more damaging language, Justice Wong declared that the boundaries of the right to religious expression needed to be clearly established in order to prevent the situation in which secular students are forced to fund activities that they may find offensive. He gave no consideration to the argument that pro life students are currently forced to pay student union fees, many of which go to fund activities and ideals that they find offensive.
To make matters even worse, the defendants in the case, the student union, now have the option of holding the plaintiffs, 2 young nursing students, financially responsible for some of the legal costs incurred. It remains to be seen if the well-funded student union will exercise that option and force the two young students to pay out of pocket.