Mary Wagner was arrested August 15th.

A Crown attorney has warned that Mary Wagner is in for “a tough road” ahead as she faces charges in connection with her arrest at a Toronto abortion site August 15.

The Crown attorney, a Ms. Pace, said that her office will be seeking the continued detention of Wagner pending the outcome of hearings into her charges, which include not abiding by two probation orders to stay away from sites that commit abortions. Wagner was arrested while allegedly counselling abortion-bound women at the “Women’s Care Clinic” site on Lawrence Avenue West. She made an appearance without a lawyer before a justice of the peace in the Ontario Court of Justice at College Park August 16.

“We’re going to oppose her release no matter what,” including if a surety comes forward, emphasized Pace. Wagner was remanded in custody by the justice of the peace to August 27 and was incarcerated at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton until then.

Leeda Crawford, a friend who was present at Wagner’s arrest, said it was her understanding that Wagner was manhandled out of the abortion site by two of its employees, including one large woman who was seen in the hallway to be yelling in a loud voice and warning abortion clients not to listen to Wagner. Whether the employees’ conduct might be grounds for assault charges may be investigated.

The developments come in the midst of an appeal that is underway regarding the sentencing of Wagner on similar, previous charges this past March 21. Defence lawyers Russell Browne and Peter Boushy are suggesting that comments and conduct by Justice S. Ford Clements on that occasion raise “a reasonable apprehension of bias” and led directly to his rejecting joint submissions of 88 days in jail and instead imposing a harsh – and what they see as uncalled-for – term of six months.

In a comment that has drawn attention across Canada and even in other countries, Clements was heard to intone that “your God is wrong” when addressing the merits of the pro-life position. Perhaps more egregiously, he went on to engage in a direct questioning of Wagner, even though the defendant had chosen to exercise her right to remain silent and not testify at the hearing.

“Are you going to stay away from abortion clinics?” asked Clements. “No I will not,” replied Wagner. “You are not?” he asked again. “No, I will not,” she replied. “You are going to go to jail,” Clements warned, “it’s just a question of how much time.”

An official transcript of the March 21 hearing now available reveals the full extent of what can only be described as a verbal assault by Clements upon Wagner. At one point, he seems to favour seeing someone engage in ongoing harassment of her: “You know, get a grip. She sure wouldn’t like it if someone was standing on her doorstep everyday pushing her around. If I had the power to do that, that is what I would do. I would have someone in her face every day, go and rattle her door.”

Among Clements’s other statements:

• “Her moral obligation is higher than any other obligation. Well then, if that is your moral obligation, then you should spend a considerable amount of time in jail. Sit in jail …”

• “If you think that you have some higher moral authority that allows you to break that rule of law, that allows you to go to that clinic, to allow you to disregard the rights of other people to use that clinic, to disrespect those people, then you are wrong and your God is wrong, because no God would tolerate that … Your attitude is cowardly … There is no God in the world who gave you that right.”

• “Your own belief system … that is what gets people into trouble and that is why, in Syria, people are dying in the streets. No different.”

• “You appear governed by what you consider to be a higher moral obligation than the law of our country … You represent a potential threat and danger to the well-being and safety of civil society.”

Arguments on the appeal are scheduled for September 19 at the Superior Court of Justice at 361 University Avenue, Toronto.

This article originally appeared at on August 20 and is reprinted with permission.