Canadian Federation of Students gladly aids members in blocking free speech, assuming what needs to be proven

(This post originally appeared on the UofT Students for Life blog.)

The York Federation of Students’ (YFS) motion to ban “anti-choice” groups from using student union resources or space has successfully been accepted by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). The motion reads:

Be it resolved that member locals [of the CFS] that refuse to allow anti-choice organizations access to their resources and space be supported. And further, be it resolved that a pro-choice organization kit be created that may include materials such as a fact sheet, buttons, contact information for local pro-choice organizations and research on anti-choice organizations and the conservative think-tanks that fund them.

This means that the CFS supports any of its members who wish to ban “anti-choice” groups from campus. The decision was made during the summer, when most students aren’t around to participate in any decision making process. Not that the CFS or YFS did any polls or surveys to substantiate their claims that most students support this. The York administration does not support this attack on free speech, and Robert J. Tiffin (York’s Vice President of students) said that the administration would try to compensate by providing its own venues and resources to legitimate debates.

Joseph Brean interviewed Michael Payton, the York student who argued the pro-choice side in the March debate:

I think it’s outrageous that they do this when students are away for the summer and when they can’t really do anything about it…. This isn’t the right of the student government to be deciding what students are allowed to hear… [It is] very much an open question how in-line they are with what students really think and feel.

It would be one thing if the YFS were doing polls on this. At least then they would be able to justify the claim that most people would be on board. But even if most people were on board, if 90% of students were on board, I would still think it’s wrong in principle. When the YFS says they believe in free speech, they believe in free speech for them, for the positions they hold, not for freedom of speech for positions they disagree with.

I wonder if the CFS or YFS would support a similar ban with respect to their tendency to favour free speech when it comes to “Israeli Apartheid” events…

The decision itself is, again, practically self-refuting. The use of the term “anti-choice” is Orwellian enough. This is a ban on clubs that are “against choice”. Against what kind of choice? I suppose we’re not allowed to ask that anymore.

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