The present writer believes that a reporter can be, and indeed will be, both objective and subjective. Like the Toronto reporter who persuaded the Milwaukee fans to back the Blue Jays, he makes no apology for being both. He has, however, put his own comments in italics to avoid confusing speakers’ statements with his own.
Some 80 members of Campaign Life Ontario met at St. Joseph’s College School in Toronto on Friday night and Saturday morning, September 20 and 21, 1985. The purpose of the meeting was “to assess our efforts to date, and look for direction for 1986,” said Don Pennell, Friday’s chairman. Strategies suggested at this meeting will be discussed at Campaign Life Canada’s annual meeting to be held in November.
Paul Dodds, lobby-co-ordinator for Ontario, spoke of lobbying the politicians “not to tear a strip off them, but in a spirit of, ‘We are here to talk about something you and I agree on.’” He reported a strong anti-abortion consensus among provincial Liberals, but said that Attorney-General Ian Scott is pro-abortion, advocating a policy of closing down Morgentaler’s abortuary only if every hospital in Ontario does abortions.
Mr. Dodds illustrated the unlawfulness of the Attorney-General’s approach by using a comparison. “If someone ransacks your office, you do not give him police protection to do the same thing over and over again until his court case is decided.”
Lawyer Gwen Landolt, the next speaker, confirmed this point. “The argument that ‘the case is before the Courts is a red herring,” she said. “If a man is accused of rape and his case is under appeal, he cannot go on raping.”
On bail conditions
Mrs. Landolt said that the proper legal procedure in the circumstances would be to shut down the abortuary, illegal as it is, then apply for bail conditions to prevent the abortionists from continuing business.
This, she said, was what was done in the case of some of the pro-life picketers. They were arrested and released only on condition that they not go within two hundred yards of the abortuary.
There is one justice for the picketers and another for the abortionists, given the current rulings.
In Manitoba, Mrs. Landolt said, the Winnipeg abortuary was closed by a permanent injunction brought forward by the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons. Ontario law does not allow a similar action by the Ontario College.
Mrs. Landolt reported on a meeting she and Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life, had with Ian Scott. They urged him, as Attorney General, to close the abortuary. He refused, going so far as to say that they (the Liberal Caucus) had even considered withdrawing the appeal against Morgentaler’s acquittal. He then went on the attack, insisting that pro-lifers limit their picketers to no more than five. When they refused, he peremptorily terminated the meeting, shouting at them to get out.
The Attorney-General’s unstatesmanlike dismissal ceremony reminds one of the story about the preacher who entered a marginal note on one page of his sermon, “Argument weak here, pound the pulpit.”
Mrs. Landolt went on to point out that the concept of a trade-off (close Morgentaler down, but open up government-run abortion clinics) is a dangerous one.
The likely outcome of the appeal of Morgentaler’s acquittal, she said, is that a new trial will be ordered. First, because the defense of necessity was inapplicable, and/or secondly, because there was no proper action on the part of the jury. [Editor: this analysis was confirmed on October 1, when the Ontario Appeal Court rendered its decision.]
David Lloyd, picket co-ordinator, then spoke of “the battle of Harbord Street,” the exhausting efforts to keep up the pressure on the officials to close down this infamous place and the temptation to “pack it in” when only six picketers appeared on the scene.
Mr. Lloyd acknowledged picketer Helen Burnie, present at the meeting. Miss Burnie, he said, knew all about the police – about who were pro-life and who were pro-abortion. He recounted that a pro-abortion policeman approached Miss Burnie one day, when she had a woman virtually talked out of continuing on into the abortuary, and said, “There, there, dear, you just go on in.” He then told Miss Burnie she could be charged with harassment.
Gwen Landolt pointed out that if the picketing stopped, Morgentaler’s lawyer Morris Manning would argue, “Why set bail conditions? Everything is peaceful. These procedures are now an accepted feature of our society.”
There is a vital distinction between “accepted” and “acceptable” Abortion is, indeed, accepted – partially – in law and, vastly more so, in the practice of some doctors out to make a quick killing in both the literal and the figurative senses. Abortion is not – and never will be – acceptable, even if it were to be accepted for ten thousand years.
There is a great deal of debate over whether killing guilty people is an acceptable response to certain situations. Killing innocent people is never an acceptable response to any situation.
On the long view
Father Alphonse de Valk, associate editor of The Interim, gave the keynote address. He departed from “the day to day slogging and carrying on” to give “the long view.” For, he said, “without vision, the people perish.”
Western civilization is suffering from two hundred years (or more) of secularization, he noted. The French Revolution ended up by pretending that religion was of no consequence. In England changes came more slowly, although traces of a religious past remain. The King and Queen, he observed, is still crowned in a cathedral. While in the U.S. the role of the state was not to take sides. Today, Father de Valk said, the West exports technology, not faith, although there are still remnants of Christianity.
An example of the latter point is the fact that, when the West exported its contraceptive technology to China, it was translated by the Chinese into a “one-child policy,” a contraceptive mentality permeating every facet of Chinese life both at work and at home, both public and private. Vestiges of Christianity have prevented the West from such a wholesale application of her own inventions.
The symbol today, Father de Valk said, is the dollar sign instead of the cross. While little pockets of religious culture, different from the majority – like the Mennonites and the Hutterites – have survived over the centuries (because we have allowed them to survive), today, it is increasingly difficult for groups to hang on to their beliefs.
The state is moving, for example, into the field of family life, and has become the educator and spiritual guide of the citizenry. The more secularized public education becomes, the more it permeates every facet of life. As an example, Father de Valk pointed to the demand to integrate sex education (read contraception, abortion, etc.) into every course in the curriculum. Christianity is characterized as merely a “view,” and a “deviant view” at that, and so is dismissed.
“Our choice is Christianity or nothing. Our choice is to do battle or forfeit the future. The enemy is intellectual and moral inertia,” he concluded.
On party or movement
The rest of the evening was devoted to a discussion on where pro-life political action should be concentrated. Should there be more work done within the organized political parties, educating candidates and elected representatives on the issues? Or should pro-life head in a new direction and form its own party?
Barbara Smith was in favour of joining political parties now established. “It’s easy,” she said, “to influence them from the inside.” John Meenan, however, disagreed. He was in favour of a new party.
William Mathie was concerned that a new, pro-life, party would not have the resources to tackle the Goliath of the three major parties. Frank Schneider urged pro-lifers to get involved in the established system. “We must address other issues,” he said; “we are fighting a whole range of ideas, but it is difficult to get together on an agenda.” Mr. Schneider was optimistic that pro-life candidates, within the mainstream party system, would win more ridings in the future.
Stephen Jalsevac, a Scarborough worker for Campaign Life, pointed out that in many ridings there is no choice, that is, there is not one candidate who will take a pro-life position. Thus, he said, the option to vote pro-life often does not exist, and it would, if there were a pro-life party.
At the end of the meeting, an informal poll was taken of the audience. Although there was a slim majority in favour of forming a new political party, it was not large enough to be considered a definite proposal.
On the last election
The first part of Saturday morning’s meeting was devoted to summing up pro-life strategies used in the last Ontario provincial election. Attendees at the meeting then split up into smaller workshops to discuss strategies for the future and to further discuss the “party or movement” motion.
While the consensus coming from some of the workshops was that working within the existing parties was a waste of time, others favoured greater action within the system. One group stressed the importance of becoming involved first at the municipal level. Another suggestion was that potential candidates should be approached before nomination and then followed up after nomination. Others felt it was important to get the priorities straight. The first question should be: Are you a Liberal or a Conservative first and a pro-lifer second?
On justice for the unborn
Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life, gave the closing speech of the meeting. “Our job,” he said, “is to educate people politically.” Judge Matheson, he reminded his audience, in writing his decision in the Regina Borowski case, had stated that it’s up to Parliament to decide the issue.
Mr. Hughes urged pro-lifers to set their priorities. “I am not Campaign Life first,” he said. “I am pro-life. Our goal is justice for the unborn of the world. Without them, there is no future.”
He observed that there are many trials for those who work in the pro-life movement. “Your relatives will call you a misfit,” he said, “and your bishop will accuse you of tunnel vision, remember whose goals you are working for.”
“Pray to God and then row for shore,” he said. Adding that that was the most apt advice he could offer to the active pro-lifer.