Imagine, you’ve done nothing wrong, nothing illegal. You’re not charged with anything by the police. But the government doesn’t like your opinion. So it seeks an injunction to prevent you from expressing this opinion, from speaking to people and giving out information, or even praying in a quiet and peaceful manner in public places, and it seeks $500,000 in damages against you. As an ordinary citizen, you can’t afford to pay all the legal costs to defend yourself against the government, but you can’t afford not to defend yourself because of the $500,000 in damages. You say that can’t happen in Ontario. This is a democracy. Well, it has happened to 18 persons simply because they’re against abortion and the NDP government strongly supports abortion.
- The Attorney General, Marion Boyd, began action on the recommendation of a Report on Access To Abortion, compiled by a Task Group composed entirely of abortion activists and abortionists.
- The government chose to launch a lawsuit for an injunction rather than introduce a Bill in the Legislature where it would have been debated in the open. The government has unlimited resources but private citizens have very limited resources. It is clearly an unfair and unjust method of procedure aimed at harassment and intimidation.
- The government hired a private investigator to infiltrate the 1992 Campaign Life Coalition/Alliance for Life “Save the Planet’s People” Conference in Toronto. The private eye turned all her information over to the government.
- Some of the persons named in the injunction are prominent leaders or spokespersons for the pro-life lobbying.
- In court, counsel for the Attorney General bluntly stated that no pro-life picketer, no matter how peaceful, should be allowed within 500 feet of any place connected with abortions.
- During her court-ordered cross-examination, the Attorney General was asked where in Ontario a person could go and hold up a sign reading “Abortion Kills Children.” The Attorney General refused to answer the question. This suggests the present provincial government would prefer to see no public opposition to abortion. No place would be an appropriate place to express pro-life messages in Ontario.
- The Ministry of Health has paid out $778,000 to Morris Manning and Clayton Ruby for the private legal bills of the three abortion clinics with interventor status in the case. They did this despite the fact that Ministry of the Attorney General lawyers were already acting for the abortion clinics. The money paid to the clinics’ lawyers is in addition to the large government expenses incurred in pursuing the injunction.
STATUS OF THE CASE
- In April 1993 the Attorney General of Ontario commenced a civil court action against 18 individuals seeking a temporary and permanent injunction against them and any other person from engaging in pro-life activity within 500 feet of 23 named locations in 5 Ontario cities.
- An interim injunction application was argued before a judge in January 1994.
- In August of 1994, Mr. Justice George Adams refused to grant the wide interim injunction the government was seeking, and stated that the courts must show great restraint when a pro-abortion government comes to court on the abortion issue. The judge refused to make an order against two of the defendants, and refused to restrict activities outside of hospitals. He made an order prohibiting all pro-life activity within 25 feet of abortionists’ offices and 500 feet from their homes. In addition, at abortion clinics, there could be no activity within 60 feet of two clinics and 30 feet from a third one. The judge also refused the government’s request to ban pro-life signs.
- In March 1995, Judge Adams refused to order the defendants to pay $75,000 to the government for legal costs but he ruled that 16 of the 18 defendants will not receive any compensation for legal expenses to date. They are now burdened with legal bills of approximately $350,000 and will incur even greater costs because the government is insisting on a full trial on the applicator for a permanent injunction.
FREE SPEECH MUZZLED
For the government to seek and advocate an injunction, not because of the conduct of individuals, but because of their opinions, sets a dangerous precedent. It poses a threat to all fundamental civil liberties normally taken for granted by Ontario citizens. In the name of freedom and justice this abuse of government power must be stopped. The defendants should be relieved of the oppressive financial burden that this NDP action has imposed on them.
“A LAW TOO FAR”
:It is astonishing that this legal action is being taken by an NDP government. New Democrats themselves have been involved in all kinds of protests over the years, whether it be in labour disputes or over various political or ideological causes.”
Editorial: Hamilton Spectator – April 26, 1993
“It is a very dangerous process…I find it really strange that a New Democratic Party would support bringing an injunction against people who are simply doing what unionists do on a regular basis against companies…”
Bob Callahan, MPP Brampton South – April 20, 1993
“If you don’t like the policies of South Africa you can go to the South African Consulate and say apartheid is terrible. If you don’t like the U.S. government policies on something you can go to the consulate and protest. If you don’t like what Dr. Morgentaler is doing, you will be arrested and thrown in jail for standing on the sidewalk with a sign…”
Peter Jervis: Constitutional & Civil Liberties Bar Association – Globe & Mail April 21, 1994
“…the injunction sought by Boyd has nothing to do with abortion at all. What it has to do with is power: Raw, naked, and if need be, brutal power.”
Peter Stockland, The Ottawa Sun – May 3, 1993
Produced by Campaign Life Coalition
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