Crown seeking 9 month sentence for pro-life prisoner Mary Wagner
TORONTO, January 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner will be tried on two counts of breaching probation and one of causing mischief under $5,000, on March 10 and 16 at Old City Hall Court in Toronto.
Wagner, 41, was arrested December 12 at the Bloor West Village Women’s Center, located on the fourth floor of an office building at 2425 Bloor Street West, while attempting to counsel women against abortions.
According to Lutheran pastor Tom Steers, who attended Wagner’s December 24 court appearance, the Crown will ask for a sentence of nine months and additional probation time, and plans to call four to five witnesses during the trial, which is estimated to last one-and-a-half days.
The witnesses will include two women who were scheduled to have abortions that day, as well as Wagner’s probation officers, Steers told LifeSiteNews.
He said that Wagner reiterated during her Christmas Eve court appearance that she would be representing herself, and that while she “would be happy to accept bail” she would not sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion facilities.
“Mary has been charged as a result of going into a Toronto abortion mill and attempting to counsel mothers to save the lives of their unborn children and not kill them in abortion,” Steers, pastor of Toronto’s Christ the Saviour Lutheran Church, wrote on his Facebook page.
“A devout Christian, Mary offers to pray for them and offers the mothers a rose.”
The Court needs to see that Wagner is not acting alone, but that “there are many, many people who strongly support her,” Steers told LifeSiteNews. “It’s important for all Christians who support life” to spread the word and to attend Wagner’s trial.
Steers also encouraged people to sign a petition (here) for Wagner that he hopes to introduce at the trial as evidence that she has the backing of the pro-life community.
Wagner’s March 10 court date at Old City Hall (Queen and Bay Streets) will begin at 10 a.m. in Courtroom M2. The trial will continue on March 16 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom M1.
Meanwhile, pro-life prisoner Linda Gibbons, who was arrested September 2, 2015 while walking in front of the Morgentaler abortion centre in an office building on 727 Hillsdale Avenue, is also in jail awaiting trial for a charge of breaking a court order.
Gibbons’s one-day trial will be held January 13 in Room 509 at Toronto’s College Park Court.
Both Gibbons and Wagner are being held at the provincial Vanier Centre for Women in Milton.
The correctional workers unit of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), is in a labor dispute with the Liberal government. It rejected a tentative contract offer in November and is in a legal strike position on January 10.
If the correctional workers do go on strike, prisoners in provincial jails will be denied visits and be in “perpetual lock down,” according to the National Post. It is unclear if prisoners will receive mail during a strike.
Although Wagner and Gibbons and their fellow inmates will face unusually difficult circumstances if a strike takes place, the two pro-life prisoners have been clear that they endure these hardships in solidarity with the victims of abortion.
“Linda and I are happy to embrace this cross (which is not too heavy) and strive to receive it as a normal result of wanting to be faithful to Christ and to love Him in ‘the least of these’ (Mt 25:40),” Wagner wrote in an open letter published in March 2015 on the Witness for Church and Pope blog. “We do not want to focus on ourselves.”
“We are in jail willingly and we hope that others would be encouraged to stand strongly in faith,” added Wagner, who has spent upwards of four years in jail since 2000 for her pro-life witness. Gibbons has been in jail for close to 11 years for her similar witness.
“We ask you to pray not so much that this cross be removed but for the strength to carry it and to grow in trust in God, to the point where we love the cross,” Wagner wrote.
“Of course, however, we look forward to the day we hope will come when we are no longer being imprisoned – only if this means that the killing has ended and all of us are permitted to live – and to live freely as dedicated Christians.”
The address is Vanier Centre for Women, P.O. Box 1040, 655 Martin Street, Milton, ON L9T 5E6.