A pro-life club on the University of Ottawa campus has just lost official campus club status, after the student union governing the authorization of student led clubs rigged the rules against them.
An officially recognized campus club has access to rental space and funding for club activities, through mandatory student’s union dues, fees and tuition.
Students for Life (SLF) first lost their official club status in October 2017, after being previously banned from having an information table in the University Centre. According to email correspondence obtained by the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, SFL had their status revoked “due to the ways in which your mandate is in contention with the student federation of the University of Ottawa’s principles.”
However, on October 8, 2019, the organization that coordinates clubs under the University of Ottawa’s student’s union, Campus Vibez uOttawa (CVUO), admitted Students for Life didn't violate any policies and re-instated the club.
But the brief moment of free speech sanity didn’t last. We are talking about a university campus, after all.
On October 28, 2019, after a petition was circulated around campus to block SFL’s reinstatement, the University of Ottawa’s Student’s Union unanimously passed a motion from interim equity commissioner Judy El Mohtadi at their board of directors meeting to make the Union's stance pro-choice.
That was an indication of what was to come. According to the Fulcrum article about that meeting:
“A draft of the equity code shown at the meeting included a section that said the union may withhold recognizing an organization if their activities meet a set of criteria in the eyes of the Board of Directors and the General Assembly - set for Nov. 7.
That includes activities that are likely to be unlawful, violate U of O policies, constitute discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code, impede legitimate, lawful activities of U of O students, or have “a substantially negative impact on a significant number of U of O students.”
The Students Union was rigging the system, setting the stage to change the rules so they could revoke approval of SFL club status retroactively. And then it was revoked om January 6.
Premier Doug Ford was elected on a promise to protect and affirm free expression on Ontario campuses. Ford’s free speech policy, announced in August 2018, requires Ontario post secondary to adopt the Chicago Principles on free speech, or lose funding.
Maybe it’s time for a compliance check on the University of Ottawa.