CALGARY: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) today announced that the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench action in Nicholas McLeod v. Mount Royal University has been settled on terms that recognize and respect campus free speech.
On February 19, 2013, Mr. McLeod was peacefully distributing pro-life literature at Mount Royal University (MRU) when a security guard ordered him to stop; the guard found the literature “offensive”. Not long thereafter, Mr. McLeod was confronted by several security guards who threw him to the ground, hand-cuffed him, and confined him to a small room for several hours, with his hands painfully cuffed behind his back.
When confronted by the security guard, Mr. McLeod initially refused to stop distributing his pamphlets, relying on the R. v. Whatcott court ruling. In R. v. Whatcott, the University of Calgary had charged a man with trespassing because he was peacefully distributing literature on campus. Campus security guards arrested the man because they disagreed with the content of his flyers. The Court threw out the trespassing charges and ruled that all people, including non-students, have a legal right to distribute literature peacefully on a university campus.
MRU initially took a hard line against McLeod, refusing to apologize or negotiate any kind of settlement. This made court action necessary. The court action settled with Dr. Docherty apologizing to Mr. McLeod for the behaviour of MRU security guards, their unnecessary use of force, the unlawful detention, and the violation of Charter rights. In his letter of apology, Dr. Docherty stated that “supplemental training will be conducted to ensure that community officers understand the interaction between the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and their duties in maintaining a safe campus environment.”
“Taxpayer-funded universities ought to be safe places for free expression. Dr. Docherty should be commended for his leadership in this regard,” stated Calgary lawyer John Carpay, who represented Nicholas McLeod in his court action against Mount Royal University.