On July 15, pro-life evangelist Ken Campbell was acquitted of obstructing police by Judge Milton Cadsby, in a case relating to Campbell’s peaceful pro-life witness in front of Toronto’s Scott abortuary on September 2, 1997.
The facts read before the court were that Campbell and renowned activist Linda Gibbons were in the government-mandated “bubble-zone” that day counselling abortuary clients to accept pro-life help and to turn away from killing their preborn babies. Sheriff Robin Rainey arrived with approximately six police officers from 51 Division. Rainey alleged that pro-lifers outside the no-protest injunction zone were shouting and chanting. Campbell corrected him, pointing out that the demonstrators were peaceful and prayerful.
Gibbons, who is normally silent in court as a sign of solidarity with the voiceless preborn children she’s trying to protect, testified on Campbell’s behalf. Cadsby remarked that he’d “finally heard your voice after all these appearances.”
Rainey said he read the terms of the injunction to Campbell and Gibbons. It was established that after being cautioned, Campbell left the injunction zone, and that Gibbons remained and was arrested. A short time later, Campbell returned to the bubble zone and resumed his witness. Rainey returned a short time later, and what was described as an “amiable discussion” ensued. Campbell let Rainey know that he was not interested in facing the charge of obstructing police, but that he was willing to be charged with disobeying a court order (breaking the injunction), a more serious matter which would give Campbell an opportunity to advance constitutional arguments against the injunction directly, before a jury. (Pro-life legal experts are convinced the Crown hasn’t actually charged anyone with breaking the injunction—even though the injunction is the reason for the arrests of pro-lifers within the bubble zones—because authorities fear it won’t stand up to a direct challenge.)
Returning to the bubble zone a third time, Campbell convinced a reluctant Metro police officer to arrest him for disobeying a court order; but two months later, the charge was changed, without explanation, to obstruction. The Crown argued that even though Campbell obeyed Rainey and left the injunction zone each time he was cautioned, he should be convicted of obstruction anyway, since he made Rainey return to the abortuary by going back into the bubble zone.
Campbell and his lawyer Paul Vandervet argued that the “temporary injunction” protecting the Ontario abortion industry is now four years old and ought to be put to a legal test. In spite of the Crown’s objections, they quoted Judge Charles Scullion’s criticism of the Crown in a previous case involving Campbell’s pro-life witness, that the charge of obstructing police was not appropriate, and that the matter should be dealt with as a case of disobeying a court order.
Cadsby sided with Campbell. He informed the Crown that there was no evidence to suggest that Campbell had obstructed anybody, and he promptly acquitted Campbell.
Even more important, Cadsby seemed to cast doubt on the validity of the injunction as it stands. Noting that the injunction, while technically “temporary,” has been in place for four years without a move to finalize the issue on the part of the government, he asked Crown attorney Jody Milstein, “Don’t you think it’s about time that it be settled?”
Campbell’s supporters in the court room broke out into applause. The Crown appeared displeased, perhaps having become accustomed to success in cases involving the injunction. After the trial, Campbell said that he stood in “solidarity with Christ and His Church and with Linda.” He also praised God for his victory, saying that “truth and justice are the breath of God.”
Vandervet described Cadsby’s ruling as a “well-reasoned decision.” A detective at 51 Division conceded that from now on “the only charge that can be laid (in such cases) is disobeying a court order.”