UBC staunchly defended APEC protest,
but set up obstacles to free speech on abortion
A planned visit to the University of British Columbia by the Genocide Awareness project (GAP) was canceled because UBC received reports that pro-choice groups planned to riot, overturning cars and vandalizing signs.
Although it didn’t appear at UBC, the GAP effect will be long lasting.
For the first time in recent memory, 100 per cent of the mainstream media coverage was fair of pro-lifers – and it caused the liberal media to take a long hard look at the tactics of the pro-choice movement.
GAP is a project of the Center for Bioethical Reform, a pro-life group headed by Greg Cunningham. CBR’s web site describes GAP as follows: “The purpose of The Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) is to make it as difficult as possible for people to continue to maintain that an unborn baby is not a baby and abortion is not an act of violence which kills that baby.”
GAP presents the world of abortion, in large and living color. The signs are enormous, emotional and controversial.
At UBC, the campus pro-life group invited GAP to make their presentation. When the announcement was made, members of the pro-choice movement initiated their strategy – a “Students for Choice” group was set up while students and members of the Pro-Choice Action Network began circulating information and material about CBR. The Alma Mater Society was approached and voted to refuse support of the pro-life display.and even rescinded use of some rooms for presentations and debates.
Meanwhile UBC officials informed Cunningham that they would have to fork out $10,000 for security, plus pay for any damages that the members of the pro-choice movement might inflict as a result of GAP’s display.
The end result was that the GAP demonstration did not take place. Pending at publication was a possible lawsuit against the University, and the specter of pro-life students taking smaller adaptations of the posters and circulating them throughout campus.
But the battle in the press was a victory. Editorialists and commentators noted the hypocrisy of UBC, where a large anti-APEC demonstration was held, bending to pressure by promises of violence. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association entered the fray and supported the rights of the pro-lifers. Libertarians noted that at the Students for Choice rally, one of the speakers called for violence and attempted to incite the crowd to riot against the pro-lifers. NDP leader-wannabe MLA Joy MacPhail and Pro-Choice Action Network leader Joyce Arthur appeared to support the call for violence by their silence, even though they spoke immediately after the speaker in question.
Debate in the University newspaper, the Ubyssey, was heated yet vibrant. A sad footnote to the fact that the pro-choice movement refused to debate Greg Cunningham, was that they had to depend on individual students to try to justify their non-participation and the calls for violence, via letters to the editor.
John Hof, president of Campaign Life Coalition B.C. noted that despite the attempt to marginalize the pro-lifers, many students and faculty and certainly the media became skeptical of the claims of the pro-choicers.
“It is noteworthy to see media outlets such as the Vancouver Sun acknowledging the threats of violence coming from pro-choice quarters. Sadly, UBC and Joy MacPhail have taught the public that violence is the way to deal with beliefs and attitudes you don’t like.