Anti-abortion activists sue Carleton over arrest
The CBC reported recently that two of the anti-abortion activists arrested at Carleton University in the fall for engaging in an unauthorized protest on campus space have filed a lawsuit against the university.
According to the students’ legal documents (CBC), the students allege that Carleton’s refusal to allow a particular anti-abortion display to be presented in a central area of campus in the first place, and then having them arrested when several students went ahead and set up the display there anyways, amounted to discrimination that caused damage. The students claim the following against the university:
- Carleton broke its own internal policies related to academic freedom.
- Carleton broke its fiduciary duties to students to provide an environment for free and open debate.
- Carleton had the students wrongfully arrested.
- Carleton broke its contract with the students by not protecting their right to free expression on campus.
- Carleton infringed many of the students’ rights under the Charter.
The students also named four university administrators as personal, rather than institutional, defendants, claiming they were negligent in the performance of their duties.
This covers off nearly every possible conventional legal claim a student may bring against their university, namely contract, tort, breach of fiduciary duty, etc. The only one missing is judicial review, which arises when a student pursued an opportunity to overturn a university decision through internal university bodies. A claim based on the Charter is relatively novel in this context (see this post on the Pridgen decision).
We will see how far this one goes.