Carleton pro-life group is granted club status

By  Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News
  • January 29, 2007
OTTAWA - Carleton Lifeline, a pro-life group at Ottawa's Carleton University, has been granted club status on campus despite a constitutional amendment banning "anti-choice" groups and actions approved by the student union in December.

On Jan. 9, representatives from various school associations voted almost unanimously in support of Lifeline. That means Lifeline is eligible for about $2,000 in funding derived from mandatory student dues, and can use public spaces controlled by the Carleton University Student Union (CUSA) for meetings.

But Lifeline president Sarah Ferguson said she is not sure when or how the CUSA amendment will be implemented.

"I'm not sure what we can do that we won't get in trouble for," she said. "It seems there is very little that we can do. I think we're going to meet and function as a club as we normally would. Hold a meeting or an event and see what happens from there."

"The second we do anything they do not like, they are going to thus remove our club status," said Lifeline treasurer Nicholas McLeod. "It's the proverbial gun to the head scenario."

McLeod said the CUSA executive has told him it is only concerned about actions, not the club's existence. However, he interprets the policy to mean that even the pro-life group's existence is a violation.

"The question is not when are we going to violate (the motion), the question is when are they going to enforce it," he said. "My belief is that they are waiting until some of the media attention dies down because they spent lots of political capital even just passing the motion in the first place."

On Dec. 5, CUSA representatives passed the amendment that would refuse recognition and club status to any groups that actively promoted limiting a woman's "right to choose" an abortion. During the heated meeting, many argued that allowing anti-choice groups and actions, such as pamphlets and displays, created a hostile environment for women and threatened their freedom and civil rights. Pro-life arguments, especially those advocating legal protection for the unborn, were likened to hate speech.

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