Three pro-life defendants – Linda Gibbons, Anneliese Steden, and Rev. Ken Campbell – are awaiting trial for breaking the Ontario government’s “bubble-zone” injunction.

Ms Gibbons and Mrs. Steden appeared in court Oct. 5 on charges of “obstructing a peace officer,” relating to the two grandmothers’ peaceful protest within 60 feet of Toronto’s Scott abortuary Sept. 9. Rev. Campbell was handled separately.

In an unusual move, Judge Milton Cadsby offered Ms Gibbons and Mrs. Steden bail conditions which would have allowed them to picket and counsel in front of the abortuary, as long as they left when the sheriff asked them to leave. Pro-lifers say the move shows the degree of the judge’s impatience with the way the injunction is being handled by the Crown.

Although pro-lifers are arrested for breaking the injunction, they are actually being charged with obstruction. This tactic is being interpreted as a sign that officials aren’t confident the injunction could stand up to a direct court challenge.

Also unusual was the Crown’s request for a publication ban on evidence. Judge Cadsby rejected that request.

Mrs Steden and Ms Gibbons refused the bail conditions. In a separate court appearance, Rev. Campbell agreed to stay away from the abortuary, and was released pending trial.

In an interview with The Interim from the Metro West Detention Centre in Toronto, Ms Gibbons called the judge’s offer “a real step forward,” and said she would support any pro-lifer who would agree to these generous and strategically useful conditions. She explained, however, that she is not interested in agreeing to any restrictions on her peaceful pro-life witness.

Pro-lifers are speculating that Judge Cadsby’s conditions would make it impossible for the police to lay obstruction charges against pro-lifers within the bubble zone, and that any protester who entered the bubble zone in those circumstances would have to be charged with breaking the injunction.

Judge Cadsby has stated in court that by now the Ontario government should have dealt definitively with the injunction (since it is technically “temporary”). He has also ruled that the usual obstruction charges are invalid, since the pro-lifers in question have not obstructed anyone.

Rev. Campbell stated that he sent faxes to numerous MPPs, the attorney-general, and Crown prosecutor Paul Culver regarding what he called the unjust treatment he and “the two grandmas” are enduring as a result of being denied a jury trial. Rev. Campbell said that MPP Gary Carr (PC- Oakville, Ont.) responded to his fax, saying he wanted to be kept up to date on the Crown’s handling of his case. Neither Attorney-General Charles Harnick nor Mr Culver replied.