Toronto – On September 20, 1991, Judge Donald Graham ruled that corporate, public prayer within 500 feet of Henry Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary, at 85 Harbord Street, is prohibited under the terms of the injunction issued in May 1989 by Mr. Justice Craig.
On March 9, 1991, twenty people met for quiet prayer in the lane behind the Morgentaler ‘clinic.’
This act of prayer was no more than a quiet, non-violent, sign which passerby and Morgentaler employees could have accepted or rejected as they saw fit, without being subjected to even the slightest degree of coercion. Yet, a court of law has now designated the act as “illegal.”
Nineteen people were arrested for obstructing a police officer, the charge usually laid when one refuses to adhere to a court order and leave. There was, in fact, no ‘obstruction’ of the ‘clinic;’ access was unimpeded.
Judge Graham, at the prompting of defense counsel Lorenzo DiCecco, agreed the event was entirely peaceful. He acknowledged that none of the various clauses applied such as “watching and besetting,” [legal] “nuisance,” impeding access, “violence” or “harassment.”
However, he decided that public prayer of this kind is, in fact, an attempt at “interrupting” the lawful use of property.
Needless to say, the judge did not reflect upon the key phrase ‘lawful.’
In March of this year the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that as far as they and Canadian law are concerned, no human person exists before birth. This judgment illustrates the depth to which law and magistrates have sunk in Canada.
Nineteen persons in all were charged. They were: Jeannie Arcand, Sturgeon Falls; Carolyn Cole, Brampton; Dr. Ray Holmes, Mississauga; Rosemary O’Connell, Port Perry; Edward and Kevin McCourty, Etobicoke; Bernadette Cheng, Don Mills; Byron Winarski, Scarborough; Nancy Kuwabara, Doris Kelly, Yvonne Sabarim, Pat Feijo, all of Brantford; George Spencely, Linda Groce, Bettina Mallic, Father Alphonse de Valk, Bill de Marois, Elaine Grant and Joseph Bissonnette, all of Toronto.
Seventeen of the nineteen received an absolute discharge. Two Basilian Father Alphonse de Valk and Byron Winarski, were given a fine of $200, payable within 90 days, or three days in jail, because their previous ‘criminal’ record has been acknowledged during the trial.
The judgment may be appealed.