Following the stabbing of Vancouver abortionist Garson Romalis, pro-abortionists have tried to link the peaceful pro-life movement to anti-abortion violence. Most prominently, British Columbia Minister of Women’s Equality Joan Smallwood told a media scrum on July 12 that Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) B.C. president John Hof had connections with “radical groups” from the United States, implying he advocates violence. She added, “We’ve been watching that for some time now.”

While unable to name which groups Hof has met with, Smallwood said Hof had meetings with national and international groups to “develop strategies to intimidate service providers and to try to block access to a legal health service.” She said, “everyone should be concerned about that and the people who are doing it should be held accountable for their actions.”

Hof told The Interim he first found out about what Smallwood said from Victoria-based CBC reporter Jeff Davies who asked for a reply to her incendiary comments.

His first reaction? “I felt sick to my stomach,” he said. He said he hoped the rhetoric would cool down and that he decided to consult a lawyer.

Hof met with a Vancouver libel lawyer to determine his course of action and is now seeking to make Smallwood accountable for her actions.

On July 14, Smallwood faxed Hof an apology of sorts. She says she never meant to imply Hof’s alleged association with “radical anti-abortion groups in the United States” was an endorsement of utilizing violence against abortionists and apologized “for any embarrassment or harm [her] comments may have caused.” She also sent a copy of the letter to the CBC.

In a July 18 letter to Smallwood, Hof said he appreciated her apology but said the “embarrassment and harm” she caused was great; he reports having received a death threat. He also noted this was not the first time she has singled him out for criticism, having labelled him an “extremist and militant” in 1998 on several occasions.

But he said the apology was “not nearly public enough” and asked for $25,000 compensation for the pain caused by her statements. If she did not compensate him he would seek “a substantial award for damages, including aggravated and punitive damages,” in court.

He had yet to hear from Smallwood at the time The Interim went to print.

Hof said, “It’s time that we stop rolling over and accept being pilloried by the government for doing work in a democracy that should be permitted.”

Paul Tuns