WINNIPEG – Police have denied claims of a concerted effort to obtain the membership lists of pro-life organizations in their investigation into the shootings of Canadian abortionists.

In an April 1 interview with The Interim, Sgt. Ron Oliver of Winnipeg Police Services said police have no policy of poring through pro-life group membership lists for potential suspects.
Sgt. Oliver was responding to concerns that pro-life groups have been asked to surrender their membership lists in the police hunt for the assailant(s).

“There is no standard operating procedure in this investigation,” Sgt. Oliver said. “Police forces are using whatever strategy they may need in each of the cities involved in these shootings.”

Abortionists were shot and wounded in Vancouver, Hamilton and Winnipeg between 1994 and 1997. Following the wounding of abortionist Jack Fainman in Winnipeg last November, police announced the creation of a special task force to coordinate the investigation. The task force is centred in Winnipeg.

A police officer’s visit to the offices of North Bay (Ontario) Right to Life in March led to fears among pro-lifers that police were seeking membership lists as part of their investigation. The North Bay officer asked for the northern Ontario group’s list of members, but was refused by its director.

Julie Duggan, head of North Bay Right to Life, told the Interim in March that the officer claimed to be investigating the shootings as part of the Crime Stoppers program. She wondered if the officer was acting on his own initiative, or was acting on advice from the special task force.

“In addition to the task force, police in each of the cities have their  own investigation in progress,” Sgt. Oliver said. He had no knowledge of any Crime Stoppers role in the investigation.

In February, police asked for and obtained the membership list of the League for Life of Manitoba. At the time, they asked League officials if they knew of any former members who left the group to start up a new organization.

The implication, according to some pro-life officials, is that police have not ruled out the possibility that the assailant(s) in the shootings may have belonged to a mainstream pro-life organization.

Pro-lifers have good reason to be concerned about their depiction as violent extremists.  The secular media never misses an opportunity to label pro-lifers as gun-toting fanatics.

But now, an internet website created by a group called the Office of International Criminal Justice (OICJ), lists “anti-abortion violence” in its section titled “Extremist Groups”.

The violence caused by the anti-abortion issue is a matter of continuing dispute between activists on both sides, but activity has largely been confined to protest marches, attempts to barricade abortion clinics and staff harassment.”