Pro-life pastor Rev. Ken Campbell was fined $100 June 16 for his part in the January 22 protest outside Dr. Robert Scott’s Toronto abortion clinic.
Rev. Campbell was arrested with pro-life activist Linda Gibbons for obstructing a peace officer in connection with a long-standing injunction against pro-life activity near abortion clinics and hospitals.
“I’m not jailing a person for his religious beliefs,” Mr. Justice Scullion said in dismissing the Crown’s call to sentence Rev. Campbell. The reverend later called the $100 a “token” fine.
In a written submission to the court, Rev. Campbell urged justice officials either to prosecute the “disobeying a court order” or to drop all charges and dismiss the case. Pro-lifers believe the Ontario Attorney-General’s office is seeking to avoid a constitutional challenge of the injunction and therefore proceeds with lesser charges against pro-life protestors.
After the court appearance, Rev. Campbell noted Judge Scullion’s “strong rebuke” of the Crown for its tactics of refusing to prosecute pro-lifers in the appropriate General Division Court from which the injunction was issued and from where it ought to be enforced.
In a June 17 letter to Ontario Premier Mike Harris, Rev. Campbell said the judge raised the same objections as pro-lifers to the Crown’s handling of the injunction. “The Attorney-General’s office was in reality obstructing justice…by denying the accused their right to a trial by judge and jury with its opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of the injunction,” Rev. Campbell said.
“So while applauding Judge Scallion’s declaration that he would not jail a person for his/her religious beliefs, we’re deeply troubled by the ‘life-sentence in six-month instalments’ imposed on Linda Gibbons for her religious beliefs.”
Rev. Campbell urged the premier to drop the injunction which he described as “deeply offensive to the civil and spiritual sensitivities and consciences of Canadians in general and the Christian majority in particular, who are Roman Catholic and Evangelical Protestant.”
In addition to calling for an end to the injunction, Rev. Campbell said the premier should order the immediate release from prison of Linda Gibbons.