The three-year-long struggle of Toronto Constable David Packer to keep his job ended on February 15, 1990, with his reduction in rank from Constable first class to fourth class. The next day officer Packer resigned.

The decision of the Ontario Police Commission overruled the January 1988 decision of the Toronto Metro Police Tribunal to fire Constable Packer for having refused to patrol Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary in April 1987.

The ruling saved Constable Packer’s job but at a reduction of salary from $55,000 to approximately $25,000.

The final decision was announced by mail rather than at the hearing scheduled at the Ontario Police Commissioners’ premises. Constable Packer told The Interim he felt bad for his family with his reduction in pay. He and Anne his wife, have five young children. “I am personally happy,” he said, “for doing what I did. I knew there was a price tag attached to it and that I would have to pay it.”

Did Packer think he could climb back in rank? He said he hoped he could. But later on he decided against staying on the police force and resigned.

The battle started three years ago, when in April 1987, Officer David Packer refused to help guard the Toronto Harbord St. abortuary of Henry Morgentaler. The clinic was illegal, its operator defiantly scoffing at the law. Its business was to kill newly conceived life under optimal conditions: soothing music, pleasant surroundings and service.

Outside were pro-life protestors and police. The police said they were there to keep peace and good order. The protestors said the police were there under orders of the Attorney-General Ian Scott to keep the clinic open, regardless of its illegality.

Police were at the front and the back of the abortuary 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many disliked the assignment. This protection of the abortionist’s operation cost the Toronto taxpayers well over a million dollars during the first two years alone.

In April, 1987 Constable Packer quietly explained to his superior that he could not carry out in good conscience an assignment to keep the peace at 85 Harbord St. This led to a series of hearings, culminating in his being fired January 27, 1987. Police Association lawyer Harry Black argued the Packer case not on the rights of conscience or on the illegality of the abortuary, but on points of Ontario labour law.

Constable Packer’s story is in print, co-written by his wife, Anne and Paul Knowles.