In a rare pro-life court victory, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench has ruled that displays of graphic photos of aborted children are “legitimate participation in an important political and social debate in Canada.”
Saskatchewan activist Bill Whatcott, and members of a pro-life group called Christian Truth Activists, were taking part in a Show the Truth type of display in Prince Albert, with pictures of aborted children being shown in rush-hour traffic. Whatcott was arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer when, after the officer had confiscated his sign, Whatcott moved to get another one. The officer testified that the pictures were “too horrific, thus very distracting to the people at that intersection during rush-hour traffic.”
An earlier, lower court decision found that the signs obstructed the proper use of the roadway and that the question of freedom of expression must give way. On Oct. 22, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench overturned that ruling and found that Whatcott’s Charter right to freedom of expression had been infringed by the Prince Albert police.
The ruling said: “The form and content (graphic photographs of aborted children) of the appellant’s expression are legitimate participation in an important political and social debate in Canada.” The ruling implied that the police were motivated by political bias in removing the signs and arresting Whatcott. It said that police were intending to control traffic, but that traffic is normally backed up at that time of day, and “no other alternate traffic-control measures were taken. The police action was arbitrary, discriminatory and not clearly authorized by law, such as can be demonstrated in a free and democratic society.”
The Interim has been informed that Whatcott and the Christian Truth activists are preparing a civil suit against the Prince Albert police for malicious prosecution.