The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) Ontario has decided to weigh in on the controversy at Lakehead University. The Lakehead Student Union officially became “pro-choice” at an emergency meeting on Jan. 21. The motion stated: “the Lakehead University student union (will) withhold any and all funds, space, resources and services within its control from any group … if that group holds any aim, principle, belief, goal, etc. that is ‘anti-choice’ in nature, explicit or implicit.” Following this, CFS-Ontario approved its own emergency motion at a January meeting. It said “member (unions) that refuse to allow ‘anti-choice’ organizations access to their resources and space (will) be supported.”
The CFS is a national student lobby group that is present on over 80 campuses across Canada. Over one-half million students from these campuses belong to the federation, according to its website, and therefore, must pay a fee that support it.
The CFS, like each individual student union, is supposed to exist in order to ensure all students, regardless of personal beliefs, are respected and represented. One of the founding principles of the federation was “to provide a common framework within which students can communicate, exchange information and share experience, skill and ideas.”
The news of this pro-abortion decision made it into various campus newspapers, including The Gazette at the University of Western Ontario. The article published in the Feb. 5 paper quoted Sandy Hudson, the CFS-Ontario women’s commissioner, comparing “allowing an ‘anti-choice’ group” to “allowing a white-supremacist group on campus.” The same article also quoted Joyce Arthur, co-ordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, agreeing that student unions should not support pro-life groups, which she likened to “Neo-Nazi movements.”
Stephanie Gray, co-founder and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, turned the comparison around. She explained, “Nazis killed innocent people. We oppose killing innocent people. Nazis suppressed debate. We welcome debate. It’s beyond bizarre, then, that Joyce Arthur would compare pro-life groups to neo-Nazi movements. If anything is parallel, it is the dehumanizing mentality evident in the Nazi ideology and the ‘pro-choice’ ideology; after all, both deny valuable human beings their right to life.”
The majority of campus pro-life clubs have been operating without hassle. However, what happens on the few campuses that do experience problems can set a precedent for the rest, especially if the CFS continues to exert its influence. Sarah Hudson, western director of the National Campus Life Network, explained, “The reality is that these institutions of higher learning are the very place where the pro-life voice is being threatened and to properly address this discrimination, there must be active support from all Canadian pro-lifers.”
Pro-life student groups, including the National Campus Life Network, say there is a great need to consider legal avenues, which will require legal funding. While student unions have unlimited resources because of mandatory fees, pro-life students have only pro-lifers’ generosity. Pro-lifers are asked to consider donating to a legal fund so that students can continue to spread the message of life on university campuses.
Interim reporter Theresa Matters is also the executive director of the National Campus Life Network.