By the mainstream press, he is being remembered as a “much-admired” man noted for his “brilliance,” “intelligence,” “eloquence,” “courage,” “prodigious brain” and “encompassing empathy,” among other qualities. But although one of his legacies is the extension of full funding to Catholic high schools, former Ontario attorney-general Ian Scott is also being recalled by pro-life and pro-family advocates as the man who, as a covert homosexual, pushed for the extension of rights and benefits to homosexuals and allowed Henry Morgentaler to operate askance of the law pending court hearings on charges of committing illegal abortions.

Scott died in his Toronto home Oct. 10 at the age of 72. He had suffered a crippling stroke in the early 1990s, shortly after the death from AIDS of his much-younger “partner,” Joseph Kimball Yakabuski. His Oct. 13 funeral at the Roman Catholic St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto raised eyebrows among orthodox Catholics, partly because of his public actions, partly because of the fact that someone living a lifestyle in direct contravention of Catholic church teaching had a Catholic funeral and partly because an “in memoriam” eulogy-type tribute was given at the service by the Chief Justice of Ontario, Roy McMurtry, who is notorious for his judicial support of same-sex “marriage” and for being the subject of a complaint of judicial misconduct laid by REAL Women of Canada.

In her book, Borowski: A Canadian Paradox, Lianne Laurence noted that Scott was “a man who sympathized with the right-to-abortion crowd.” In the mid-1980s, he refused to close down Morgentaler’s new Harbord Street abortuary and instructed then-Toronto police chief Jack Marks not to lay charges. When Marks nonetheless later arrested Morgentaler, along with co-abortionists Robert Scott (no relation) and Nikki Colodny, a “visibly miffed” Ian Scott moved to secure a stay of proceedings for the trio and had them released hours later.

“It is clear that whatever charges are laid today and any other day, there can be no trial of those charges until the Supreme Court of Canada makes its decision,” the attorney-general told a press conference. Pro-lifers were “disgusted” at the decision. In a statement issued at the time, Campaign Life Coalition said, “Attorney-general Ian Scott has done everything possible to protect Morgentaler and his cohorts illegally operating abortuaries in Ontario. He has allowed the abortuary to operate for two years.”

In 1990, Scott said he would put a hold on third-party charges in abortion cases if the charges were “politically motivated.” That move was aimed at preventing pro-lifers from laying charges against abortionists in situations where a Crown attorney would not. In addition, Scott was quoted as having urged judges in a speech “not to use the law to impose the moral imperatives of one group upon another,” adding that criminal law cannot “simply mirror a fixed moral code.”

Scott was rewarded for his activism in 1987, when the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues presented him with a certificate in honour of his dedication during his time as provincial minister responsible for women’s issues.

Before, during and after the abortion imbroglio, it was known in political circles, but not to the public at large, that Scott was a homosexual. In his later autobiography, To Make a Difference: A Memoir, Scott recalled that, as an individual “to the left of liberal,” he met Yakabuski at a bar in Toronto in 1979 and shortly afterward, they decided to live together. The pair “enjoyed travelling together and had some wonderful trips to exotic locales … We always ate at the dining room table, with flowers and candlelight.”

Scott is known to have marched in the 1987 Toronto gay pride parade but later, “the bottom dropped out” of his world when Yakabuski was diagnosed with the HIV virus. Yakabuski died in 1993 at the age of 37 (Scott was 59), a day after telling the pair’s housekeeper that he had seen an angel who looked like his mother in his room.
Despite hiding his homosexuality, Scott amended the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1986 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual “orientation.” He was praised by Ontario’s current homosexual minister of health, George Smitherman, as “an inspiration to me.”

But Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes remembers getting thrown out of Scott’s office, along with lawyer Gwen Landolt, when the pair met the then-attorney-general in his office. “He didn’t like the answers he was getting,” Hughes recalled. “He posed as a good, practising Catholic and told Cardinal (Gerald Emmet) Carter that he was pro-life. But he wrote a letter to a constituent saying he was pro-abortion … May God have mercy on his soul.”

Father Alphonse de Valk, today editor of Catholic Insight magazine, was at the time working at The Interim and was arrested and jailed on a charge of obstructing police after padlocking Morgentaler’s Harbord Street abortuary in 1986. Pro-lifers then gathered outside the jail to protest the detention. He was released from jail the next day at Scott’s behest, not out of benevolence, but because the attorney-general didn’t like the optics of a priest in prison as the abortion debate was in full swing.

de Valk added that apart from his abortion advocacy, Scott had a direct conflict of interest in getting human rights legislation passed concerning sexual orientation while he himself was a homosexual. “He has done tremendous damage,” de Valk said, adding he was glad to see no bishops took part in Scott’s funeral.

Scott’s actions were consistent with his philosophy on faith and public life as summed up in an address to the Ontario legislature on Nov. 25, 1986. “We must regard moral questions as personal matters … I say that particularly as a Roman Catholic … I do not believe that in a pluralistic society, no matter how important our own moral values are, no matter how firmly we hold to them and no matter how they regulate every aspect of our lives, we can permit this Legislature to enact the moral values of anybody, no matter how firmly they are held.”

The Vatican rejects this view. As noted in a 2003 doctrinal note, “On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, “One of the most important aspects of the unity of Christian life (is) coherence between faith and life, Gospel and culture …

“It is a mistake to think that, because we have here no lasting city, but seek the city which is to come, we are entitled to shirk our earthly responsibilities; this is to forget that by our faith we are bound all the more to fulfill these responsibilities according to the vocation of each.”