On Thursday October 10, Irene Morel, a housewife from Parry Sound, Ontario, attempted a citizen’s arrest of Ontario Cabinet Minister Sean Conway in the Ontario Legislature.  She was unsuccessful, but according to police, it was the first time anyone had ever attempted such an action.

Mrs. Morel, 48, part-time journalist for the Toronto Star and some regional publications, had come to Toronto with the intent of laying a citizen’s arrest on a member of parliament for, “…aiding and abetting a criminal offence: The obstruction of justice, as I saw it, of not closing the abortion clinic which is in contravention of the Criminal Code,” she said.

Mrs. Morel felt that if she could arrest an MPP that would ipso facto put the government under arrest and force the closure of the illegal abortuary until the Supreme Court rules on free-standing clinics.  She had hoped to arrest the Premier or the Attorney General and had studied the Criminal Code and sought legal advice on what she planned to do.  The lawyer she spoke to advised her that she was within her rights as a citizen of Ontario to do what she planned.  Only later, however, did she discover that the arrest of any government member within the legislature is forbidden by law, without the permission of the Speaker of the House.

Before the attempted arrest Mrs. Morel tried unsuccessfully to contact Attorney General Ian Scott and Metro Chief of Police Marks.  When she arrived at the legislature the first MPP she encountered was Sean Conway.  She introduced herself and put her hand on his left shoulder, while shaking his hand, and told him, “I am placing you under arrest as a representative of the Government of Ontario, and I am charging you with aiding and abetting in a criminal offence.”  According to Mrs. Morel, Sean Conway became very upset saying, “You can’t do this.”  She replied to him, “But I’ve done it.”

He pushed her arm off his shoulder, saying “I have a meeting to go to,” Mrs. Morel asked if he was resisting arrest.  Sean Conway answered “Yes,” forced himself away from Mrs. Morel and left in great haste.

From there Mrs. Morel took a taxi to police headquarters to report what had happened.  She met with deputy Chief of Police William McCormack who informed her that what she had attempted to so was illegal but understandable as the police themselves became aware of this law only a few months ago.

From police headquarters Mrs. Morel went to the Deputy Crown attorney’s office and spoke to Mr. Jerome Wiley, Q.C.  Mr. Wiley, while impressed with Mrs. Morel’s desire to be a responsible citizen, pointed out that her action was misguided due to inadequate legal counsel.

Mrs. Morel, who is unaffiliated with any organized pro-life group, later called Mr. Conway’s office to apologize, “…not for my action, but because I had been out of line and mistakenly did not have the right to do what I attempted.”