Carleton Lifeline has been a certified campus club since 2006. That all changed on Nov. 15 when the club announced via press release that the Carleton University Student Association had decided to not give Lifeline status this year. CUSA has taken issue with section 3.2 in the club’s constitution, which states: “Carleton Lifeline believes in the equal rights of the unborn and firmly believes that abortion is a moral and legal wrong, not a constitutional right. Therefore, Carleton Lifeline shall work to promote the legal protection of the unborn and their basic human rights to life.” CUSA holds that this section contravenes its own Discrimination on Campus Policy, sections 5 and 6, which states: “CUSA and CUSA Inc. respect and affirm a woman’s right to choose her options in case of pregnancy. CUSA further affirms that actions such as any campaign, distribution, solicitation, lobbying, effort, display, event etc. that seeks to limit or remove a woman’s right to choose her options in the case of pregnancy will not be supported. As such, no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding will be allocated for the purpose of promoting these actions.”
The club was given an alternative; they could change their constitution, which has been accepted by CUSA since its inception in 2006, to reflect the anti-discrimination policy. Lifeline refused to do this by the deadline and, instead notified CUSA that they will have this situation reviewed by a panel of judges of the Ontario Divisional Court. The letter sent to CUSA, dated Nov. 18 from the students’ lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos, noted that “Within Carleton Lifeline’s Application for Judicial Review will be a request that the Court make a determination on the validity and enforceability of sections 5 and 6 of CUSA’s Discrimination on Campus Policy.”
There was some sign of hope when Khaldoon Bushnaq, CUSA’s vice president of internal affairs, told the Canadian Press that a motion was introduced Nov. 17 during a council meeting to change CUSA’s policies so that Lifeline could obtain status. This motion is to be voted on in December. Despite news of this motion, Bushnaq holds firm that the club must change their constitution.
Ruth Lobo, Lifeline’s president and one of the students arrested in October, is holding firm. “This needs to be challenged,” she said. “They are blatantly discriminating against the pro-life students, and effectively trying to silence the pro-life message at Carleton University.”
Rebecca Richmond, National Campus Life Network’s executive director, has worked closely with the students at Carleton, as it does with campus pro-life groups across Canada. “Unfortunately, the discrimination against pro-life students is nothing new,” she explained, “but we’re confident that Canada as a whole can see the blatant discrimination against these students and respond appropriately to demand that Canadian universities are true to their name: a place of open, free, respectful dialogue.”
You can follow these stories on the blogs of Carleton Lifeline (www.carletonlifeline.wordpress.com) and NCLN (www.ncln.ca).