Free speech at risk during 2010 Olympics, group says
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is warning free speech will be in danger during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The organization claims students living on campus at the University of British Columbia are being asked to sign away their right to free speech during the two-week event.
A clause in a new residency contract bars students from posting signage that creates a "false or unauthorized commercial association with the Olympics" that would be visible from the Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre, an Olympic venue.
David Eby, the executive director of the BCCLA, said the terms are too broad.
"We're concerned about any particular wording that would leave the interpretation of free expression up to a UBC bureaucrat to decide whether or not speech was commercial or not commercial.
"Even if it was purely commercial speech, like a student putting up a Pepsi sign in their dorm room that was visible to Olympic attendees. Well, it's their dorm room and if they're pro-Pepsi, then they should be allowed to do that."
UBC spokesperson Stephen Owen said the university is not trying to suppress anyone's right to political protest.
He said the clause in question is written strictly to protect the commercial interests of Games organizers.
"There's absolutely no impact on free expression of personal or political views. It's very strictly limited to predatory commercial marketing practices," Owen said.
With files from The Canadian Press