TORONTO, January 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Ontario Crown wants pro-life prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner to spend 18 months in jail for her attempts to save women and unborn children from the violence of abortion.
Wagner, who has spent a total of 4 1/2 years in jail for her pro-life witness, was arrested December 12 at the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic after entering the waiting room to distribute roses and to try and persuade women not to abort their children.
“She is a recidivist offender,” Crown lawyer Tania Monteiro told Justice Ramez Khawly during a judicial pre-trial at Old City Hall Court on Friday.
“She needs to learn to stop doing this.”
The 41-year-old pro-life prisoner refuses to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion facilities.
Monteiro argued that Wagner remained in jail of her own volition and so was not eligible to have her court date fast-tracked, as is the practice for accused who are denied bail and must remain in jail until tried.
But that didn’t sit well with Justice Khawly, who pointed out that if Wagner were treated as though she were at liberty, the first available court date would be in August, “and today is January.”
He opted to fast-track Wagner’s case, despite Monteiro’s protest that to do so was unfair.
Wagner’s trial on three counts of breach of probation is set for May 25-26.
Monteiro told the Court she intends to call five witnesses: two police officers, two abortion facility staff, and Wagner’s probation officer.
If Wagner is convicted in May, the Crown intends to ask that she be denied the 1.5 to 1 ratio for time served as a further punitive measure, Monteiro stated Friday.
Justice Khawly tried to persuade Wagner to agree not to go back to the Bloor West Village Women’s Centre as a condition of release until her trial, but Wagner, who is representing herself, steadfastly refused.
She said she’d be “happy” to be out of jail and that she could agree to keep the peace and be of good behavior. But it would violate her conscience “to agree not to go to a place where I know unborn children are being killed,” she told Khawly. “That would be reprehensible.”
Added Wagner: “I don’t believe I should be coerced into signing anything that goes against my conscience.”
Watch footage of Wagner's December 12, 2016 arrest:
Moreover, because there are already probation orders against her attending at the abortion facility, “Why is there any need for further conditions?” she asked.
“That’s a good point,” Khawly responded. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
He suggested to Monterio that Wagner be released on the basis of keeping the peace and good behavior, noting it was just weeks after Christmas.
“Let’s show some human kindness.”
Monteiro, however, argued that Wagner was a repeat offender who “wants to be” in jail.
Khawly asked Wagner if she were a Christian, to which Wagner said yes.
That led Monterio to suggest she was willing to take Wagner at her word.
“If you promise on that Bible that you will never re-attend to that clinic, I will drop the charges,” she told Wagner, who was standing in the prisoner’s dock.
Wagner pointed out that to promise not to “go and try to protect these children who are going to be killed” was “reprehensible” and that “the Court is asserting that I am wrong” to try to protect unborn children.
“I’m a Roman Catholic, and I believe in my religion,” Khawly responded.
But “swearing on a Bible” not to attend to a particular abortion facility “has nothing to do with your own spiritual and moral views,” he argued.
“It would not be OK with my conscience,” Wagner said.
“Are you at Vanier?” Khawly asked. “How are you doing there?”
“I would be happy to go, but my conscience would not be at ease,” she replied.
Wagner also told the Court she had not signed any of the probation orders, which led Khawly to point out that if that was the case, the law required she be brought before a judge to be sentenced.
He concluded by advising Wagner she could speak to duty counsel if “at any point you are contemplating something else,” and added: “Good luck.”
The small courtroom was crowded with a dozen or so supporters of Wagner, who stood up when she was brought into the room, her arms handcuffed behind her back, and led into the dock.
Wagner has asked for the abortion facility’s surveillance video from the day of her arrest as evidence.
Her next court appearance will be to receive this and other disclosures of evidence, and for the Crown to formalize the third breach of probation charge.
That is set for 9 a.m. on February 10 at Old City Hall Court, Room 111.
Wagner’s mailing address is: Vanier Correctional Centre, 655 Martin St, Milton, ON L9T 2Y1.