By Hilary White

OTTAWA, May 29, 2008 ( – The Supreme Court of Canada has chosen not to hear an appeal by the Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN), whose decision to fine and revoke the license of a pro-life and pro-family practical nurse was judged unconstitutional by a lower court.

In January this year, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals ruled that the SALPN had acted improperly in suspending Bill Whatcott’s nursing license for his participation in a demonstration outside the Regina offices of Planned Parenthood in 2002. 

The refusal of the Supreme Court to hear SALPN’s appeal means that the case is closed definitively in Bill Whatcott’s favour. According to the normal procedures of the Supreme Court, three judges examined the material in the case and declared that it was not in the public’s interest to pursue.

SALPN’s Discipline Committee had judged Whatcott’s protest to have constituted “professional misconduct” and suspended his nursing license and fined him $15,000.

Whatcott admitted in a court hearing to having carried signs with pictures of foetuses and captions saying “Planned Parenthood Aborts Babies”, “Planned Parenthood refers for abortions”, “God’s gift of life” and “choice is abortion”. Whatcott lost his initial case at the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench and his appeal was later dismissed.

But the appeal court noted when finding in Whatcott’s favour that the SALPN disciplinary committee had not addressed constitutional issues of Whatcott’s freedom of expression. Whatcott’s appeal was upheld by the court, which said the case raised “constitutional law issues pertaining to freedom of expression”.

See related coverage:

Precedent Setting Ruling Reinstates Canadian Pro-Life Activist’s Nursing License, Cancels Fine