The awarding of the Diamond Jubilee medal to Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons, two pro-lifers jailed for counselling within the “bubble zones” of abortion facilities, has caused public controversy. In a statement, Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, who nominated Wagner and Gibbons for the medals, said that they “are trying to protect defenceless, voiceless human beings in the womb from butchery and death, and trying to let vulnerable women know that there are other options.” He also stated, “It’s a pretty upside down world when we honour abortionists like Henry Morgentaler for killing over 5,000 babies and imprison precious women, like Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons, who try to save babies from such savagery. They are the real heroes of humanity.”
Leslie MacKinnon from CBC News introduced the women in an online article as “two convicted criminals.” The reporter from the state broadcaster stated: “Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, at a press conference promoting tougher youth criminal justice laws, seemed genuinely stunned by a question about why criminals would be awarded commemorative medals.” Johanne Brownrigg of Campaign Life Coalition told CBC News about the “quiet, prayerful nature” of the women, which MacKinnon immediately follows up with an account of two cases of violence against abortionists or abortuaries in the early 1990s, of which Gibbons and Wagner are not linked.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae told CBC News, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to be politicizing the Diamond Jubilee medals in this way … We’ve had whole battles about awarding the Order of Canada to people who have had difficulties with the law.” The CBC report does not mention that Order of Canada recipient Morgentaler carried out illegal abortions and spent time in jail. Nor did it mention that Rae’s NDP government obtained the temporary injunctions creating the bubble zone restricting the free speech rights of pro-life activists, which has been used to arrest activists such as Gibbons.
Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen attacked the selection process for the medals – one was even given by NDP MP Paul Dewar to Richard Warman, known for filing multiple ‘hate speech’ complaints for the Canadian Human Rights Commission. In an editorial, the Citizen called the medal “a secretive, ad hoc and politicized national embarrassment” that “shouldn’t be handed out to people MPs … happen to like.”
A Globe and Mail editorial declared, “Conscience that interferes in the right to choose can become zealotry, or even a dangerous fundamentalism” and compares Wagner’s actions to a fictional case of a man blocking the doors of a classroom because he disagrees with what is taught by the school.
“This message may strike you as offensive … but it is certainly not criminal,” Andrea Mrozek of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada wrote in a guest column for the Citizen. “Karla Homolka, Canada’s notorious and violent sexual offender, didn’t spend much more time behind bars than Linda Gibbons has.” Mrozek, who also writes for the blog ProWomanProLife, said, “Ironically, in some cases, the road to justice requires jail time.”