The Alberta Court of Appeal tossed out the University of Alberta’s imposition of a $17,500 security fee on a pro-life campus group.
The case dates back to March 2015 when a mob used sheets, towels, banners, and mega-phones to obstruct a pro-life display on the UofA campus which had been previously authorized and approved by the University. Prior to the display going up, the University’s then-president Indira Samarasekera stated the University must facilitate and protect the peaceful expression of all views, regardless of popularity.
On November 30, 2016, University of Alberta Protective Services confirmed that the University would not charge students involved in the March mob, despite the pro-life group producing evidence of individuals boasting about disrupting the display on social media.
In 2016, UAlberta Pro-Life applied again for a two-day campus event with a stationary display. The University demanded a $17,500 security fee as a condition, including the wages of security guards and police, and the costs of barricading the venue.
Unable to pay, UAlberta Pro-life canceled the event.
This encouraged the campus group to seek an order prohibiting the University from imposing such financial burdens on law-abiding students in the future, arguing the fees were unconstitutional.
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench first ruled in favor of the University and their $17,5000 demand in October 2017.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) intervened before the Alberta Court of Appeal, in support of freedom of expression. The student group appealed and the Court came down on the side of UAlberta Pro-life.
“In issuing this demand, the University of Alberta ignored the fact that any threat to safety and security that may have existed on campus came uniquely from those who physically obstructed and loudly interrupted a university-approved event,” said John Carpay, the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedom lawyer representing UAlberta Pro-life.