The Ontario government’s plan to gag pro-life activity has met with stiff opposition and pro-life organizers are saying it’s not over yet.
“We plan to keep the pressure up until every single recommendation of the Task Group report is scrapped,” said Louis Di Rocco, of Campaign Life Coalition. Di Rocco led a campaign which collected more than 50,000 petition cards demanding that a report expanding abortion services, and banning pro-life protests at various locations, be axed.
He and two other representatives from CLC delivered the cards to the office of the Premier May 11.
Attorney General Marion Boyd has announced that the government is seeking to obtain a permanent injunction banning pro-life activity in front of 23 sites including abortuaries, hospitals, and doctors’ offices and homes across the province. This would mean peaceful picketing and counseling outside these facilities would become illegal. The government is also seeking $500,000 from 18 people named in the notice of action.
Di Rocco said a legal defence fund has been set up to collect funds to help fight the case. He said he is hoping pro-lifers and anyone interested in preserving freedom of expression will contribute to the fund.
He said the Rae government is trying to “silence and stifle an entire segment of people who have acted peacefully and in accordance with the law.”
The card campaign will continue until the government scraps the report and spends tax dollars on real health care, Di Rocco said.
Meanwhile, a team of lawyers led by David Brown, an injunction law expert, and Peter Jervis, a member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Civil Liberties Branch, has been meeting to plan strategy to fight the government move. Brown said a tentative hearing date has been set aside for the week of August 16.
He said the team of lawyers plans to fight the injunction application on two fronts. The first is on the basis of freedom of expression and the rights of citizens “to express their opinion in a peaceful manner.”
The other argument will be that there is no need for an injunction.
“Injunctions are designed to restrain conduct that has gone off the rails,” Brown said. He added that “things have been pretty quiet in the last three years” in the areas where the government is seeking the injunction.
Brown considers the fact the Attorney General is seeking the injunction to be “unprecedented.” Since 1980, he said, there have been two other injunctions across Canada: one to restrict prostitution in the west end of Vancouver and the other which applied to a logging road in Temagami.
(Contributions to the legal fund can be sent to Campaign Life Coalition at 53 Dundas Street East, Toronto, M5B 1C6.)