Two vicious attacks within weeks of each other have left a Vancouver pro-life family reeling but vowing they won’t be “silenced or intimidated.”
Paul Nielsen, a popular columnist with The Interim and an active pro-lifer in the Vancouver area, woke at 3:30 a.m. on October 23 to find his home filled with thick toxic smoke. A military-type smoke bomb had been fired through his living room window with such force that it landed across the room and beneath the dining room table.
He awoke to the sound of his pet cockatiel who “was making an awful racket” and immediately got his entire family of eight outside in their nightclothes. Firefighters credited the quick evacuation as the reason no one was killed or injured.
It was the same scene November 1 as a similar canister came smashing through one of his front windows.
“We were just going to bed and I heard a slam and a crash,” relates Nielsen. “I thought, ‘Oh My God, not again’”
He ran to the front door but did not see the canister lying on the floor. It had a time delay fuse and his wife immediately spotted it after the fuse ignited the bomb.
“She didn’t think, but just picked it up and chucked it out the front door,” Nielsen relates. If she had waited any longer it would have been too hot to handle.
The canister is a German-style naval flare which emits thick oily orange-grey smoke. Both attacks followed the same pattern and Nielsen says it is a clear case of intimidation as a result of his outspoken pro-life views.
The family is trying to clean up the mess, which includes an oily film over everything they own, left by the smoke.
The police are “totally baffled and disgusted,” Nielsen says. They have promised to keep the house under close observation and he says they have been very co-operative in security arrangements. He has a special advisor on security helping him protect his home.
The family has suffered ongoing intimidation ever since Nielsen’s campaign office was fire-bombed when he was running for the Tories in the federal election of 1988. Since then his house has been subject to vandalism, mainly in the form of broken windows, and a car has driven by repeatedly flashing searchlights into the windows.
Nielsen has no doubt about the motive behind the incidents. “Obviously this is not a random attack,” he says. “No one else in town as been bombed. These people who oppose what we stand for have just tried to kill me and my family.”
“What we are dealing with here?” Nielsen asks in disbelief. “You couldn’t believe the stress level of this. My 16-year-old daughter has been having nightmare. We are worried something else is going to happen.”
“Paul Nielsen and his family are not the real intended victims of these outrageous attacks,” said Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes. “The real intended victim is the pro-life movement. The perpetrators of these attacks want to intimidate all of us.”
Campaign Life Coalition BC has set up a Nielsen Family Fund to cover the costs of the extensive damage.
“We want to let them know the pro-life movement stands behind them and will not let one family take the brunt of any of these radical attacks,” said CLC President John Hof.