OTTAWA, ON November 2, 2011 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is pleased to learn that trespassing charges against members of Carleton Lifeline have been withdrawn, and hopes the school year will be marked by a climate of openness to all viewpoints on university campuses.
While a number of pro-life campus clubs have faced restrictions on their activities over the past several years, Carleton was probably the first school where students were actually handcuffed while being arrested for trespassing. The incident took place in October, 2010 when Lifeline proceeded with a GAP (Genocide Awareness Program) display in a public area where it had not been unauthorized. The trespassing charge was dropped yesterday, as the court noted that the matter is included in the ongoing case of Lobo et al v. Carleton University. The students were ordered to pay Carleton’s legal costs in the amount of more than $18,000.
“While we’re pleased that the trespassing charge was dropped, the students still have an uphill battle ahead of them in the ongoing court challenge, and the costs they will incur,” said Joanne McGarry, executive director of the CCRL. “We hope the matter will be resolved in the interest of freedom of speech.”
Carleton Lifeline is suing the university and its administration for discrimination, citing sections of the school’s human rights and other policies as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They are seeking almost $200,000 in damages.
The League has always taken that view that student pro-life activism, including the GAP display, is a legitimate exercise of freedom of speech. We have provided assistance to a number of the student groups who have faced on-campus censorship.