Ontario’s gvmt, laws, and judges biased against pro-life cause: Civil Liberties Association
TORONTO, May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Ontario government, its laws, its courts, and its universities share an “institutional bias” against pro-life organizations, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association insists in a new report.
“The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) is opposed to the evident statutory and institutional bias that exists in Ontario against the free-expression rights of pro-life campaigners,” begins the OCLA’s new paper.
The report is a response to the refusal of the province’s courts to defend the free speech of pro-life students on university campuses, and the provincial Liberal government’s surreptitious passage, in 2010, of amendments excluding abortion statistics from existing freedom-of-information laws.
“This means that there is no right whatsoever in Ontario for any individual or association to access government information ‘relating to the provision of abortion services,’” the issues paper said of the latter.
Pro-life blogger Patricia Maloney doesn’t take it personally, though she single-handedly exposed Ontario’s painfully true abortion numbers through painstaking use of the FOI law before 2010. “The government is just worried that if people knew how many abortions are being done, they wouldn’t like it,” she told LifeSiteNews.
By comparing the numbers the province released voluntarily with what her FOI efforts revealed, she calculated the official abortion figures (27,000 in 2010) to be low by 44 percent -- in 2010, that meant 17,000 murdered unborn babies went unmarked statistically.
The OCLA paper notes that the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was amended without debate or explanation, hidden deep in an omnibus bill. The effect is unconstitutional, it argues: “The exclusion effectively prohibits expression on the excluded records, and thereby violates the Charter right to free expression of the requesters of the information.”
The government recently defended the practice in an emailed explanation to the Catholic Register saying that the “FIPPA amendment” did not prevent release of abortion statistics, but merely allowed the government to ignore FIPPA and refuse to release these statistics whenever it saw fit, “based on multiple considerations including the safety and security of facilities, health care providers and patients.”
“That’s hooey,” said Maloney. “I’ve never asked for the names of facilities, or doctors, or patients, just total numbers.” And total numbers are what the government refuses to disclose.
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But Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, told LifeSiteNews, “I think OCLA has been drinking too much anti-choice Kool-Aid.” She added, “The obvious reason for amending FIPPA was to protect the safety of providers… yet the OCLA remains completely oblivious, so they wrongly assumed it indicated bias.”
A decade earlier, however, the Ontario government resisted FOI requests on the dubious grounds that even province-wide total numbers would inflame pro-life extremists to bomb abortion facilities and assassinate their staff. At that time the arguments were rejected by the independent commission governing FOI issues.
The bias against the pro-life cause extends to the courts, the paper notes. Judges have allowed universities to kick pro-life proponents off campuses despite their Charter rights to free speech and assembly, accepting the argument that universities are private institutions not governed by the Charter.
That argument, which has been laughed out of Alberta courts repeatedly though was accepted recently by a British Columbia court, is nothing but a “loophole,” in the OCLA’s view. Public universities are chartered by provincial governments, mostly funded by provincial governments, and run by boards of governors mostly appointed by provincial governments. “They are a government activity,” concludes the OCLA. The BC Civil Liberties Association is appealing the decision against free speech in that province.
Likewise, Maloney is challenging the abortion exclusion under the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of expression and speech, supported by the Association for Reformed Political Action.