Edmonton denies prolife organization booth at KDays in violation of Charter

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Edmonton denies prolife organization booth at KDays in violation of Charter

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EDMONTON, AB: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announces that lawyers provided by the Justice Centre have filed a lawsuit against the Explore Edmonton Corporation on behalf of Edmonton Prolife for not allowing it to display a booth at the KDays exhibition in violation of its Charter rights. The lawsuit was filed on June 4, 2024, at the Alberta’s Court of King’s Bench in Edmonton.

The Explore Edmonton Corporation is owned by the City of Edmonton, manages the City’s venues and promotes tourism. Edmonton Prolife is a non-profit organization bringing awareness, support and resources to those facing unplanned pregnancies and end-of-life situations. The organization has had a booth at KDays since the 1980s.

Edmonton Prolife applied for a KDays booth on February 8, 2024. On May 14, 2024, it received a vague notice that its application had been rejected because it had not met vendor criteria or because of a lack of available space.

Two years earlier, in January 2022, Edmonton Prolife applied for a KDays booth. On July 5, 2022, Explore Edmonton told Edmonton Prolife that it could have a booth at KDays to present its materials. However, eight days later, Explore Edmonton unilaterally cancelled the organization’s booking without any explanation.

Edmonton Prolife did not apply for a space the following year, in 2023.

Internal email exchanges between Explore Edmonton personnel from 2022, obtained through a freedom of information request, showed that the corporation looked for ways to exclude Edmonton Prolife from KDays. These email exchanges disclosed that Explore Edmonton disliked their prolife message and believed that it made guests feel unsafe, despite a lack of any supporting evidence. Explore Edmonton also stated that recent US court rulings on abortion were a factor in its decision to exclude Edmonton Prolife from KDays, without citing any evidence of tangible security risks.

Edmonton Prolife’s application seeks relief for Explore Edmonton’s violation of its section 2(b) Charter right to “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

A similar situation occurred in 2017, when Edmonton Northlands, the organization that ran KDays at the time, attempted to cancel the Edmonton Prolife booth. The Justice Centre intervened on behalf of Edmonton Prolife by sending a formal request to the Chair of Edmonton Northlands, noting, among other things, the long history of Edmonton Prolife’s presence at KDays. Northlands reconsidered and allowed the booth.

Darren Leung, counsel for Edmonton Prolife, stated, “Public spaces are important forums for people to express a wide range of ideas. Governments are custodians of public spaces and must comply with the Charter when managing these public spaces. Government bodies like the Explore Edmonton Corporation are legally required to be neutral and have no right to censor content that they dislike or disagree with.”

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