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Pro-life group suddenly barred from Canadian fair after 40 years of attendance

August 24, 2023 (Campaign Life Coalition) – A Canadian pro-life organization was barred from a local fair, despite having attended the fair for over four decades, after the fair’s organizers unexpectedly told the group that it was “not a good fit” anymore and that there were “safety concerns.”

The Prince George Right to Life Society has been a part of the British Columbian Northern Exhibition (BCNE) for the past 40 years. Every year, they manned a booth and provided pro-life information to the people in attendance. “We’ve been invited back every year and were given a note of thanks after each exhibition,” said Laura Fowlie, President of Prince George Right to Life Society, in a communication obtained by Campaign Life Coalition (CLC).

However, this year, when the pro-life group applied for a booth at the fair, their request was denied. Prince George Right to Life then asked for an opportunity to meet with the BCNE’s board of directors to discuss the matter. “We were then told that they had concerns about the safety of those attending the exhibition and those who would be staffing our booth,” said Fowlie.

BCNE responded that their decision was final. That was the last communication the pro-life group received from the event organizers. Fowlie said that her group’s denial came as a blow since the exhibition “has always been our largest outreach to the public and has played a very important role in education and membership.”

Campaign Life Coalition reached out to the BCNE’s General Manager, Sylvia Layzell, to ask why Prince George Right to Life was denied a booth. “At this time, we’re tearing down our fair. We don’t have time for comments at this time,” she replied. Subsequent calls met similar results. The BCNE is one of the longest-running fall fairs in Canada, beginning in 1912. According to the fair's website, the event was created so that "townspeople and farmers in the district would exhibit, compete and enjoy themselves, drawing the community together."

Photo credit: BCNE facebook page.

Pete Baklinski, Communications Director for Campaign Life Coalition, called the barring of the pro-life group “blatant discrimination.”

“Shame on the BCNE for refusing Prince George Right to Life Society’s application to be a vendor at the fair because of the group’s pro-life beliefs. This group has been at the event for over forty years with never a problem. That is, until this year, when someone in a position of power at the BCNA — who apparently despises pro-lifers — decided to bar them from the event,” he said.

Baklinski said that pro-life groups are being “systematically barred” from the public square because “some don’t like to be reminded that abortion is the greatest evil of our times and that the killing must come to an end.”

“These people try to stop the message by barring the messenger. I encourage this pro-life group to look at its legal options in response to the BCNE’s discriminatory action,” he added.

Despite being barred from the event, the right to life group refused to let that stop them from their pro-life mission.  They held a prayer vigil on a street near the exhibition during the August 19th weekend when the fair was taking place. Richard Mansfield, secretary of Prince George Right to Life, told CLC that a group of pro-life advocates stood close to the sidewalk with signs. They told passersby that they were barred from the BCNE while explaining their pro-life position.

“I attended the first vigil,” he said. “Most of the response from the traffic was positive, although we also had some angry responses as well, but no problem because we were in a part of Ospika [street] where there was no stopping.”

Baklinski praised the pro-life group for standing its ground by holding a prayer vigil with signs next to the fairgrounds. “Pro-life advocates are a voice for those who have no voice, and that voice will not be silenced. Bravo!”

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