A pro-life club at the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus is taking the student union to court for refusing to renew the group’s club status for the 2015-2016 school year.
The court action against the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) was filed in the Superior Court on behalf of Students for Life by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms on Jan. 15. The action seeks to force UTMSU to revoke its decision and recognize the club.
Although Students for Life was given club status in the 2014-2015 school year, UTMSU changed its position this academic year due to the group’s stance on abortion. The court documents state that in a report to the board of directors last summer, Russ Adade, vice president of the UTMSU, said that the club was not recognized “due to their stance on abortion, in terms of being pro-life and using their platform to tell women what they should do in those situations.”
In an email to Students for Life in the fall, Adade wrote, “You are telling folks, especially women, what to do with their bodies…you folks can’t put them down for making a decision that doesn’t fit with your mandate.”
The JCCF sent a legal warning letter last October, after which Adade claimed that the club status of Students for Life was revoked for “violations and discrepancies we found within your constitution in relation to the clubs handbook and the UTMSU operational policy as it pertains to clubs.” Even though Students for Life made the required changes, they were still not granted club status.
The UTMSU’s mission statement states that it will “safeguard the individual rights of the student, regardless of race, creed, sex …. or personal or political beliefs.” John Carpay, lawyer and president of the JCCF, stated in a press release, “it appears that UTMSU sees diverse opinions as good for most topics, but not abortion.”
“The actions of UTMSU have demonstrated their disregard for their own rules, and for students’ freedom of expression and freedom of association,” said Diane Zettel, president of Students for Life, to the Mississauga News.