TORONTO, May 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Judge Mavin Wong sentenced pro-life prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner to ten months in jail May 5, following Wagner’s April 16 conviction on one count of mischief and two of breach of probation.
Crown prosecutor Craig Power asked for a sentence of six months for the mischief charge, and ten months for the breach of probation charges. Power also asked that Wagner be credited 6.75 months (based roughly on a matrix of 1.5 to 1) for the 134 days she has spent in jail since her December 23 arrest at Toronto’s Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic.
Wong credited Wagner six months for time served, sentencing her in effect to four more months in jail. Wagner will be released after serving the mandatory two-thirds of her sentence, on or around August 5.
The Ontario Court of Justice judge heard Power and Justine Fitzgerald speak to sentencing before rendering her verdict.
Fitzgerald was appointed by Wong as “friend of the court” to advocate for Wagner, who refuses to speak or cooperate with the proceedings. “I don’t think that’s any news to the court” that Wagner’s actions are “undertaken on behalf of a cause that Ms. Wagner believes in,” Fitzgerald said.
Power argued that “everyone is entitled to their beliefs,” but “where our rights are fettered is where our neighbour’s nose begins.” He said Wagner’s repeat offences show her to be “unmoved by rule of law” and that “her silence is a tacit assertion that she is not subject to this court.”
In sentencing, Wong referred to a pre-sentence report listing Wagner’s previous convictions. She noted that Wagner had a B.A. in English from the University of Victoria, worked briefly in a pub and at a home for expectant mothers, and since 1998 had lived a “monastic life” and been “heavily involved in the pro-life initiative.”
According to the report, Wagner was first arrested in Vancouver in 2000. Since then she has been arrested at least six more times, served with numerous probation orders and spent upwards of four years in jail.
“It’s obvious that Ms. Wagner is committed to the pro-life position,” Wong said. “She is equally committed to committing criminal offences.”
Wong cited “the repetitive nature of Ms. Wagner’s crimes,” her attempts to “impose her religious beliefs on others” and that she “flagrantly ignores probation orders,” as aggravating factors in sentencing.
The judge asserted that Wagner “doubtless adds emotional and psychological harm” to women in abortion clinics and that “she likely thrives in the leadership role she feels she plays for others.”
“Clearly Ms. Wagner is not interested in abiding by the law. I am surmising Ms. Wagner believes that the law is wrong and she is right.”
Wagner is “young enough to have many years of productivity ahead of her,” is “intelligent,” and “otherwise pleasant,” Wong said.
As well as four months in jail, Wong placed Wagner on probation for two years, with conditions that she not go within 100 metres of any abortion clinic, and particularly the Bloor West Village Women’s Centre. Wong also directed Wagner to pay $300 in victim surcharges.
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About 16 supporters, many holding white roses, stood up when the 41-year-old pro-life prisoner was brought into the courtroom. According to John Bulsza, longtime friend of Wagner, the roses symbolize the “innocence of unborn children” killed by abortion.
Wagner recently wrote an “open letter” explaining what she is doing and why, published by the Witness for Church and Pope blog. She refers to pro-life prisoner of conscience Linda Gibbons, also in jail at Vanier Centre and whose next pre-trial hearing is at College Park May 12.
“People have often asked me if I could not simply stay outside the area I am forbidden to enter, and in that way, avoid arrest,” writes Wagner. “But this question forgets something: the children scheduled to be killed will have no one to stand up for them. We will stop being present to them and to their mothers out of obedience to an immorally imposed restriction by those entrusted with authority.”
“If we think in terms of getting arrested or not getting arrested, we lose sight of Christ, hidden in: ‘the distressing disguise of the poor’ – those so poor, we cannot even see or hear them.”
Wagner noted that she was grateful for all the support, but that “there is far too much of a focus on me in some parts of the world and especially on the fact that I am (unjustly) incarcerated. My time incarcerated is a small fraction of Linda Gibbons' (who has again been arrested time and again for witnessing for life) and the hardship is nothing compared to what the babies go through, which is the worst brutality ending in their deaths.”
“A good friend, has made an important observation: there is pro-life work and there is Gospel of Life work,” writes Wagner. “If we are Christians, we want to be Gospel of Life workers! We see not only the problems (of abortion, euthanasia, etc…); we are called to see everything in the light of Christ (crucified, died and risen from the dead)! We are called to see that the greatest injustice today is not abortion but the root of it: the failure to adore God, to put Him first.”
Find full text of Wagner’s letter here.