A club at University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Abbotsford is protesting the cancellation by university administration of a pro-life presentation that was scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
But a UFV spokesperson said the event has only been postponed.
A press release issued Monday by the Life Link club stated that the club had been told to shut down a presentation that featured Mike Schouten, campaign director of “We Need a Law,” speaking about the current legal status of abortion in Canada.
The club also said that it was “banned” earlier in the semester from distributing anti-gendercide resources unless this was done in a closed room.
Leslie Courchesne, director of marketing and communications at UFV, said the event was not cancelled, but was postponed due to several reasons.
She said Life Link had not disclosed until last week that the event included an outside speaker and advertising.
Courchesne said UFV administration was informed that a protest was planned in opposition to Schouten’s speech.
“Due to the short notice, UFV did not have enough time to do a fulsome risk assessment to ensure the safety and security of our campus community and external visitors.”
She said administration is working with Life Link to hold the event at a later date, or to hold it off campus on the planned date.
The anti-gendercide materials in question were created by National Campus Life Network (NCLN), an organization that supports pro-life students.
Anastasia Pearce, NCLN western campus co-ordinator, said the materials have been distributed on campuses across Canada. They provide information on sex-selective abortions, stating that ” ‘It’s a girl’ should not be a death sentence.”
Pearce said no other university has restricted the distribution of these materials to a closed room.
Courchesne said UFV did not object to the “It’s a girl” items being displayed and distributed on campus, but the administration wanted to know what other materials Life Link might display, and did not receive a response.
She said Life Link was informed that when materials are of a “graphic nature that could be upsetting or offensive” to some people, alternative arrangements are made for them to be displayed in a marked classroom space.
Life Link has now secured legal counsel from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), which issued a letter to the university on Monday, calling for a reversal of both decisions, saying they are discriminatory and amount to censorship.
JCCF lawyer John Carpay stated in the letter that, if these decisions are not reversed, “Life Link will have no reasonable alternative but to commence court proceedings against UFV, seeking an injunction and costs as well as damages for breach of contract, without further warning or notice.”
Courchesne said UFV administration is receiving legal advice on the JCCF letter.