Injunction would set “unprecedented restriction”

The Ontario government wants to make it illegal to counsel women or peacefully protest abortion in cities across the province.

Attorney general Marion Boyd plans to seek a court order restricting pro-life activity, the government announced April 19.

“I am seeking this injunction to ensure that women have access to legal health care services in this province,” said Attorney General Marion Boyd.

Boyd filled the notice of action with the Ontario Court (General Division) which asks for an injunction restricting counseling and other pro-life activity.

The injunction, if granted by the Ontario courts, would halt picketing and counselling outside three abortuaries in Toronto as well as at abortionists’ homes and offices and hospitals in London, Brantford, Kingston and North Bay.

Pro-life leaders say it would be an unprecedented restriction of the rights of a group to assemble and peacefully protest in the province.

Mary Ellen Douglas, president of Campaign Life Coalition Ontario, called Boyd’s court order “misguided” and said CLC will seek to intervene in the court action.

“We are peaceful but we will not be muzzled at the whim of abortionists who profit from a woman’s dilemma,” said Douglas.  She and 17 others were named in the injunction.

“We do not believe in harassment nor intimidation, and do not engage in these tactics,” she said.

Barbara Krever, a spokesperson with Boyd’s office, said the earliest the province would go before a judge would be the summer.  She reacted strongly to suggestions the injunctions would set a dangerous precedent as an infringement to rights of freedom of speech and assembly.

“I’m not making any comparisons,” she said.  “We are considering this as a way to end harassment.”

She said the government is still in the process of collecting affidavits from women who claim to have been harassed.

Joanne Dieleman, director of Aid to Women, was also named in the notice of action.  She said she and the volunteers at the center which gives help to pregnant women, will continue on no matter what the province tries to do.

“At Aid to Women our mandate is to help women,” she said.  She said the group will give the same compassion and help to distressed women even if the injunction goes through.  Volunteers estimate at least 96 babies were saved through their efforts last year and many other women changed their minds about having an abortion which they will never know about.  Women come in seeking help and information on their own and would continue to do so even if the courts banned a pro-life presence outside.

She added she is “dismayed” by the government’s intentions.  “I always said they couldn’t possibly do it.  I am absolutely convinced we have to fight this to the Supreme Court.”

Liberal MPP Robert Callahan immediately denounced the announcement by Boyd in the legislature.

“I find it really strange that a New Democratic Party would support bringing an injunction against people who are simply doing what unions do on a regular basis,” he said.  He said “in the tradition of the New Democratic Government” it should “allow the people to express their views.”

The others named in the suit include activists with the pro-life movement across the province.  They are: CLC President Jim Hughes, John and Dan McCash, Linda Groce, Judy Johnson, Dick Cochrane, Rhonda Wood and Jane Ubertino of Toronto; Barry D’Costa from Kitchener, Jack Baribeau, John Bulsza and Gearoge Dienesch of London; Paul Charron of North Bay; and Paul Vandervet, Nancy Kuwabara and Errol Alchin of Brantford.