Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Attorney General. Legal abortions in this province can be performed only with the approval of therapeutic abortion committees at accredited hospitals. Dr. Morgentaler, the well-known abortionist, held a news conference this day indicating that next Wednesday he would be opening in this city a free-standing abortion clinic to operate in defiance of the existing law. On more than one occasion the Attorney General has publicly stated he will enforce the laws as they exist with regard to abortions in Ontario.
Given these facts, what specific and effective action does the minister propose to take at this time to stop the operation of an illegal abortion clinic?
Hon. Mr. McMurty: Mr. Speaker, I am sure my colleague the member for Oriole appreciates the day-to-day enforcement of the criminal laws of this country are the direct responsibility of the police force in the particular area about which we are now talking. Metropolitan Toronto.
I am quite sure the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force is well aware of the statements to which the honourable member has referred. As I have said in the past, if there is an evidentiary base upon which the police can come to the conclusion, upon reasonable and probable grounds, that an offence under the Criminal Code has been committed, then I assume the police will be laying a charge or charges.
I think we can all assume, quite properly, that the local police force is quite competent to review this matter and to collect any evidence that might need to be collected or might be required in relation to a breach of the criminal laws of this country.
Mr. Williams: Given the fact that at the same news conference today Dr. Morgantaler stated he would be asking the Metropolitan Toronto Police to protect the women who come to his clinic, what protection is the Attorney General going to provide to the unborn children who cannot protect themselves from being illegally killed at Dr. Morgentaler’s clinic?
Hon. Mr. McMurty: With the greatest of respect, I do not think this is the appropriate forum to get into a discussion with respect to the very difficult and complex issue of abortion generally. My concerns are related to the respect for the laws of this country. While the day-to-day obligation is that of a local police force, obviously an Attorney General has some responsibility if a local police force does not appear to be prepared to carry out its responsibility. In this case, I again repeat, I am totally confident the Metropolitan Toronto Police force will carry out its responsibilities.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, given the very strong position taken on this issue by both the Attorney General and his colleague the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman), if in fact a prosecution does take place, will the Attorney General be prepared to seek an injunction to assure himself that such a clinic will remain closed while the prosecution is proceeding through the courts?
The Attorney General will recognize that the purpose of the question is to avoid the clinic continuing to operate for a long time while such a case could be dragged through the courts.
Hon. Mr. McMurty: Mr. Speaker, until we know that there has been a breach of t he criminal law of this country, I really think it is a little premature to speculate as to what the appropriate action should be. The matter is obviously going to be monitored very closely.