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Ontario votes to fast-track ban on free speech outside abortion clinics

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

TORONTO, October 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Only one MPP voted against an Ontario Liberal bill outlawing pro-life witness outside abortion centers.

MPP Jack MacLaren, a member of the Trillium Party, voted against Bill 163 on second reading Tuesday.

Eighty-five of the 107 MPPs at Queen’s Park voted for the bill, which now goes to committee for one day of public hearings Thursday.

“Thank God Jack MacLaren had the courage to stand up for free speech, and those who stand up for free speech should thank him,” said Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Campaign Life Coalition, which is lobbying hard against the bill.

The “bubble zone” bill is set to pass next Tuesday after all three main parties -- Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP -- struck a deal to unanimously fast-track the legislation.

“I was thrilled to know that the other two political parties support this approach and this legislation. That was music to my ears,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, who introduced the bill October 4, said during the three-hour debate on the bill Monday.

The far-reaching legislation automatically bans pro-life witness, including picketing and sidewalk counselling, within 50 meters of Ontario’s eight abortion centers, a distance that can be increased up to 150 meters upon request.

Bill 163 also allows hospitals, pharmacies and any other healthcare facilities that provide abortion, including medical abortion, to apply for “bubble” zones of up to 150 meters.

The bill automatically bans all pro-life activity within 150 meters of the homes of abortion providers and abortion center staff.

The bill includes a “general anti-harassment provision to protect providers of these services, wherever they are, from harassing conduct directed at them,” Naqvi said Monday.

Punishment for breaching Bill 163 is a fine up to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months for a first offence, and a fine of up to $10,000 and up to one year in jail for a second offence.

Tories voted for or weren’t there

MPPs Bob Bailey, Rick Nicholls, Mike Harris, Steve Clark, Norm Miller, John Yakabuski, and Jeff Yurek were among Progressive Conservatives who voted yes to Bill 163.

Progressive Conservative MPPs Monte McNaughton, Sam Oosterhoff, Randy Hillier, and Toby Barrett were not present for the second reading vote.

Liberal MPPs Joe Dickson and Mario Sergio, who are considered pro-life, were absent for the vote. Liberal MPP Lou Rinaldi voted yes.  

Campaign Life tweeted out its praise for MacLaren:

But they blasted other MPPs.

“I cannot believe that so many elected representatives who have sworn to uphold our constitution have voted to violate the Charter by taking away our right to free speech,” Fonseca said.

“The greater shock is some of the people who voted in favour of abortion, in favour of protecting an industry the corporate object of which is to make profit by killing children before birth,” he told LifeSiteNews.

“It’s devastating to see a formerly strong MPP in Rick Nicholls succumb to Patrick Brown’s bullying and vote for the killing of children in utero,” Fonseca said.

He also blasted Liberal MPP Rinaldi, who has identified as pro-life in the past.

As for MacLaren, he told LifeSiteNews he voted against Bill 163 because it was “the right thing to do.”

The MPP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills described the bill as “taking a sledgehammer into a china shop” and that its restrictions on freedom of speech are “absolutely” unconstitutional.

While MacLaren was “proud” to be the only one voting against the bill, “it would have been nice if there were a whole lot more doing the same thing,” he said.

MacLaren is listed as an independent because the Trillium Party lacks the eight MPPs needed to be recognized as a party at Queen’s Park.

Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod praised the bill during second reading debate yesterday.

“I’m happy to see that the government has come to the table at this point in time and we are going to pass it,” she said. “We think the bill is perfect as is, so we’re not going to be submitting any amendments.”  

MacLeod had tabled a motion October 5 to unanimously pass the bill, but the Liberals refused to pass it.

They were then accused by media and opposition MPPs of playing politics with abortion.

Since then, the parties evidently reached an agreement, and deputy premier Deb Matthews introduced a motion Monday to fast track the bill, which was passed by a handful of MPPs in an almost deserted chamber.

Meanwhile, Campaign Life delivered petitions signed by some 3,000 Ontarians to numerous MPPs at Queen’s Park on Monday.

“We will be having our supporters in ridings deliver more to their local MPP constituency offices,” Fonseca said.

To sign the CLC petition against Bill 163, go here.

MPPs who voted yes on Bill 163 second reading:

Granville Anderson; Teresa Armstrong; Ted Arnott; Bob Bailey; Yvan Baker; Chris Ballard; Lorenzo Berardinetti; Gilles Bisson; James Bradley; Patrick Brown; Sarah Campbell; Michael Chan; Bob Chiarelli; Raymond Cho; Steve Clark; Lorne Coe; Mike Colle; Michael Coteau; Grant Crack; Dipika Damerla; Steven Del Duca; Nathalie Des Rosiers; Vic Dhillon; Han Dong; Brad Duguid; Catherine Fife; Kevin Daniel Flynn; Cindy Forster; John Fraser; Jennifer French; France Gelinas; Lisa Gretzky; Ernie Hardeman; Michael Harris; Percy Hatfield; Ann Hoggarth; Eric Hoskins; Mitzie Hunter; Helena Jaczek; Sylvia Jones; Sophie Kiwala; Marie-France Lalonde; Tracy MacCharles; Lisa MacLeod; Harinder Malhi; Michael Mantha; Cristina Martina; Gila Martow; Deb Matthews; Bill Mauro; Jim McDonell; Kathryn McGarry; Eleanor McMahon; Ted McMeekin; Peter Z Milczyn; Norm Miller; Paul Miller; Reza Moridi; Julia Munro; Indira Naidoo-Harris; Yasir Naqvi; Taras Natyshak; Rick Nicholls; Randy Pettapiece; Arthur Potts; Shafiq Qaadri; Lou Rinaldi; Liz Sandals; Peggy Sattler; Laurie Scott; Todd Smith; Charles Sousa; Peter Tabuns; Harinder Takhar; Monique Taylor; Glenn Thibeault; Lisa Thompson; Daiene Vernile; Bill Walker; Jim Wilson; Soo Wong; Kathleen Wynne; John Yakabuski; Jeff Yurek; David Zimmer

MPPs who voted no on Bill 163 on second reading:

Jack MacLaren

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