UAlberta Pro-Life hosted a public demonstration in 2015, which was shut down by a counter-demonstration of pro-choice students. Photo courtesy of UAlberta Pro-Life

Alberta court rules against university student pro-life group

  • October 12, 2017
The University of Alberta Pro-Life student group is planning to appeal after a provincial court ruled in favour of the university’s decision to charge $17,500 in security fees as a condition to host a public event on campus.

The decision, which was filed Oct. 11, ruled that as a registered student group, UAlberta Pro-Life remains subject to the university's rules and policies.

"My club members and I are deeply saddened by this ruling," said Amberlee Nicol, past president of UAlberta Pro-life, in a statement. "We thought a university campus would be a safe space to share and debate ideas, but the university silences us and condoned obstruction and vandalism of our property."

The university first imposed the security fee as a condition for the student club to host a public demonstration on campus grounds in February 2016. The students were planning to set up a series of displays that "showed the consequences of abortion."

Eleven days before the scheduled event, the student group received an e-mail from the University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) with a security assessment and a $17,500 bill. According to the e-mail, the costs were to cover the UAPS officers on special duty and Edmonton police, as well as a double-perimeter fence "ensuring that sidewalks remain unobstructed."

These security measures were drafted in consideration of a similar event that took place the previous year, which the student group claimed to have been violently shut down by a counter-demonstration of pro-choice students.

Unable to afford these fees, the student group was forced to cancel the event.

On April 26, 2016, the group decided to file a lawsuit claiming that the imposition of the security fees infringes on the prolifers' freedom of speech.

"It's disappointing that students who did nothing wrong, and were officially authorized to have their display in 2015, should be penalized and censored for the misdeeds of others," said Jay Cameron, litigation manager at Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a law firm defending the student group.

The decision followed a hearing June 8 at the Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench, presided by Hon. Justice Robert A. Graesser.

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