Update: Mr. Winters' funeral will be held on Saturday, March 24 at 2 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 151 Laurier Ave. E., Ottawa.
OTTAWA, March 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A well-known long-time pro-life advocate and the first person arrested and charged under Ontario’s “bubble zone” law, has died at age 70 before having his day in court.
Cyril Winter passed away at 11:07 p.m. Friday, March 9, at the Ottawa Heart Center, following surgery earlier that day for stenting of several coronary arteries.
“Stent day but no guarantee because I could get bumped by emergencies,” Winter posted on Facebook Friday morning.
“Reassuring to know that I am not an emergency – read: ‘not critical.’ ‘Love is patient…’ Come Lord Jesus. Cy.”
His brother, Chris T. Winter, posted news of Winter’s death under that same message on Tuesday.
Scarcely a month before, Winter had been arrested two times outside the Ottawa Morgentaler abortion facility and charged with eight offences under Bill 163, or Safe Access to Abortion Services Act. He was to appear in court March 23.
Winter told LifeSiteNews at the time he was “shocked” by his arrests, because he was carrying a sign not about abortion but Charter rights.
Bill 163 bans all pro-life witness within the 50 meters of Ontario’s eight abortion centers, and within 150 meters of hospitals and pharmacies on request.
It was of crucial consequence to Winter, who had been a fixture outside the Morgentaler abortion facility on Ottawa’s busy Bank Street for the last seven years.
Rain or shine, he stood on the sidewalk in front of the abortion facility, sporting a sandwich board displaying graphic images of abortion victims, and with such messages as: “Abortion is murder in the womb. Choose God’s love. Don’t kill your baby today.”
And he saved lives by being there – though only now does he know how many.
“For sure, seven [mothers] came out within minutes to tell me they changed their mind, and many of them in tears, but all of them certainly very thoughtful and sober,” Winter told his friend and fellow pro-life advocate Donald Andre Bruneau in a January 31 interview, one day before the law came into effect.
“So the baby’s saved, and the soul is saved, the parents’ souls are saved, for now and hopefully forever, and the angels rejoice in heaven over it.”
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But Winter’s witness also provoked wrath and condemnation from abortion center staff, passers-by, and media, as well occasional police zealotry.
He was subjected to people “hitting me, spitting on me, swearing, threats to kill me, buses swerving at me to splash me when there’s slush and water, cars doing the same,” he told Bruneau.
And such incidents increased notably after Toronto Star’s Heather Mallick wrote a column in April 2017 against the pro-lifers, contended Winter.
Mallick aired accusations by Shayla Hodson, the Morgentaler Clinic’s director of operations, that pro-lifers were harassing and intimidating staff. Mallick also referred to an incident where a young man entered the abortion facility and sprinkled holy water, suggesting it could have been kerosene.
The Ottawa Citizen followed up with a story in which Hodson claimed a couple was “spit on, on their way in.”
Winter denounced the allegations at the time as “vicious, lying and libellous,” and reiterated this to Bruneau.
“It just continued and escalated tremendously, all the lies about harassment and me spitting. I never spit, it’s abhorrent,” he said.
He was also threatened with arrest in 2013, when abortionist Kathryn Treehuba complained to police Winter had put her name on his sign.
When police relayed this to Winter, he responded: “Isn’t she proud of what she does?”
But in May 2017, with media and public sympathy seemingly behind them, the Morgentaler abortion center, Planned Parenthood Ottawa lobbied Ottawa mayor Jim Watson for a “safe access zone” around the abortion facility.
Watson punted the request to Liberal Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, also MP for Ottawa Center, where the Morgentaler abortion facility is located.
Naqvi referred to the “spitting incident” when he announced Bill 163, in October 2017. The bill passed easily and came into effect February 1.
Winter was arrested six days later, carrying a sign “Freedom of Expression and Religion. No Censorship,” while within the zone. He was arrested again February 9 while holding a sign that read: “God save our Charter rights.”
“I prayed across from Cyril at 65 Bank St for many years. Never did I see him do anything wrong or break any laws,” Frank Barrett told LifeSiteNews.
“He never did all the things he was falsely accused of and he dearly wanted his day in court to show proof that truth will win in the end.”
A retired RCMP intelligence officer, Barrett “witnessed the harassment [Winter] received from the Ottawa Police doing their job but a little too forceful,” he said.
Winter did “have a heart problem, however, I am sure all the harassment he unfairly received did not help things,” Barrett added. “He was a true pro-life warrior. Surely he will be welcomed into Heaven.”
Winter told Bruneau the “illegal” bubble zone made him “angry” because it transgressed his Charter rights.
“Of course, I’m even more angry about the babies [and] not having the opportunity to directly show the murder of the babies to the people going into in to this abortuary,” Winter added.
“God is angry, too, he knows what’s happening, but God gets the last laugh all the time. God understands that advertising and prayer can be done anywhere.”
Winter told Bruneau that he persevered over the years because “I hate murder in the womb, the injustice the discrimination against the baby; just because its home is in the womb, and it’s not out, it’s still the same human being.”
And despite his “frustration and anger” over Bill 163, Winter said he refused to be discouraged.
“It’s like, get out of here, move 50 meters away, be discouraged. No. That’s Satan’s key, he wants us to be discouraged…I will not be discouraged.”
“Jesus, we trust in Thee,” said Bruneau.
“Absolutely, every day,” responded Winter. “It’s all we can do, because without Jesus, we’re nothing. We can do nothing.”
Information on Cyril Winter’s funeral is not publicly available at this time.