Witnesses deny Bill Whatcott interfered with abortuary clients
By Mike Mastromatteo
Veteran pro-life activist Bill Whatcott was found guilty of causing a disturbance in an incident stemming from his participation in a demonstration outside the Scott abortuary in Toronto last August.
The decision was handed down March 27 at Toronto’s College Park courthouse. The Crown had sought a 15-day jail term, but the judge trying the case opted for a $100 fine. Whatcott has 60 days to pay the penalty.
Now residing in Regina, Whatcott was required to return to Toronto to attend the hearing. For several years, he volunteered with the Aid to Women counselling centre in Toronto.
The “causing a disturbance” charge was laid after Whatcott staged a one-man demonstration outside the Gerrard St. East abortion clinic. He carried a large poster showing the dismembered body of a seven-month-old unborn child.
Police and Crown prosecutors testified that Whatcott impeded pedestrian traffic on the north side of Gerrard Street, directly across from the Scott abortuary. (The location is beyond the no-protest “bubble-zone” established by the government to silence pro-lifers.) Police officers also testified that Whatcott chased after abortion clients in an attempt to dissuade them from entering the facility.
Whatcott told The Interim March 28 that he only called out to abortion clients, and made no effort to prevent them from entering. He also denied impeding traffic on the sidewalk.
Toronto pro-lifer Anne Dobson was called to testify as a witness at Whatcott’s trial. She told The Interim, “Nobody could block that sidewalk [on the north side of Gerrard St.] with a four foot sign. Also, Bill was standing on the edge of the sidewalk. ”
Police had earlier testified that the sidewalk was only three feet wide. Aid to Women worker Robert Hinchey, also called to testify, paced out the width of the sidewalk, and said it was more than 10 feet wide.
Dobson also confirmed Whatcott’s claim that Whatcott did not chase after abortuary clients, but only called out to them.
The latest court decision is nothing new to the pro-life activist, who on six previous occasions has been charged with displaying “obscene” material (pictures of aborted babies). He has been cleared of all the obscenity charges, and he believes the “causing a disturbance” conviction is the Crown’s way of dealing with his persistent pro-life efforts.
Both Dobson and Hinchey believe the charges were motivated by some officers’ personal feelings about Whatcott, who has long been a thorn in the side of Toronto’s 52 Division.