Ontario pro-lifers have vowed that Premier Peterson will not be allowed to forget that there is an illegal abortuary operating in the province. Many have stated that they will picket him wherever he goes in the province.
A central grievance with the Premier is that he signed a statement prior to the election stating that he would close the illegal abortuary if elected. He has not done so but he has heard the loud chant of “Peterson keep your promise” at numerous engagements over the last four to five weeks from the Holiday Inn in Sault Ste. Marie to the Harbour Castle Hilton in Toronto.
Thornhill, September 12
At a large Liberal fund-raising dinner at the new Richmond Hill Sports Complex, 35 picketers from the York Region Right to Life group gave Peterson a loud welcome. As he arrived and got out of his car, the picketers called out, “Peterson keep your promise.” One picketer, Joanne Dieleman, held up a large which showed an enlarged photocopy of Peterson’s election statement. Peterson and his wife Shelley both stopped to read it and his wife seemed quite surprised by it. When Joanne asked why he didn’t keep his promise, Peterson did not answer at first and then said weakly, “You people have a lovely arena up here.”
A spokesperson for the York Region pro-lifers said they felt privileged to be the first group to picket Peterson.
Lawyer Morris Manning was present at this dinner, as well as federal liberal MP, Jean Chrétien. Attorney General Ian Scott arrived, parked his car but then immediately left in another car. He left too quickly to be approached by picketers.
Hart House, September 26
At a gathering of the University of Toronto Law School Alumni, almost 100 picketers walked and waited in the rain at Hart House for Peterson to arrive. When he finally did, the picketers yelled out in one voice “Peterson, stop the Killing now.” Witnesses say that Peterson was visibly shaken. He was approached by one picketer who asked him about his promise, but again he replied weakly and in a low tone that “the matter was before the courts.”
Passers-by were handed copies of the letter which carried an explanation of the protest on the reverse side. The Hon. John Crosbie was also in attendance that evening and he received a personalized copy.
Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, October 1
Peterson was picketed at the Holiday Inn in Sault Ste. Marie and a picket was planned for later the same day in Sudbury but it rained so hard picketers could not get out of their cars to protest.
Toronto General Hospital, October 2
On October 2 Peterson was due to attend a dedication ceremony at the Toronto General Hospital (a hospital that does more abortions than live births) and he managed to evade 50 picketers upon entering.
However, some picketers got near the ceremony itself and demanded loudly that Peterson keep his promise. They were ejected. It was good fortune for the picketers when Peterson was spotted sneaking out through a little-used basement exit under a main entrance to the hospital.
Approached by picketers, Peterson was visibly shaken and at one point placed his hands on a protester’s shoulder and asked, “What should I do?” To another query about the illegal abortuary, he replied that it “was in the courts.”
The Sheraton Centre, October 3
At the Sheraton Centre the next day Peterson avoided the picketers and came in a side entrance. On this day, however, one picketer spoke to him for about three to four minutes. He said he would not go out of his way to speak to the picketers.
When asked if he would close the “clinic” he again said the matter was before the courts and he couldn’t do anything. When it was suggested that he could do something through the Attorney General’s Office he said the questioner should get a lawyer and he avoided other questions about the Attorney General. It was pointed out to the Premier that 38 out of 48 caucus members signed questionnaires saying they supported the closing of the clinic. He shrugged off the “division” in his cabinet saying there is a “division” in society.
When reminded that he had lied to the electorate in signing a letter stating that he would close the clinic he said, “It is obvious I can’t satisfy you.” He turned to his car, saying he could do nothing after being asked yet again what he would do.
Picketer and Liberal party organizer Jim Smith was arrested for trespassing on hotel property which set up a chant from the picketers that the police should arrest the criminals on Harbord Street and not innocent people protesting for Justice.
The Guelph picket, October 4
At a testimonial dinner Peterson was met by about 25 picketers in Guelph. He did stop to speak with them but again gave the same answer to the questions concerning justice for the unborn.
Harbour Castle Hilton, October 8
At the Harbour Castle Peterson was greeted by about 25 picketers and questioned at the door by a pro-lifer about the illegal abortuary.
Surrounded by media personnel, he was asked to explain why he could not set bail conditions. He replied that it had been tried once and that there was no point in doing it again. It was explained to him that bail conditions were not set, because, the judge felt the accused would not recommit the offence. However, if the accused did recommit the offence, the judge saw no reason why bail should not be set.
Peterson lowered his voice to an almost inaudible mumble and walked away from the pro-life questioner saying something about “not being a dictator.”
The Skyline Hotel, October 9
Again, 30 pro-life picketers met the Premier’s car as it drove up and a protest note was passed to Peterson through an open window.