The Interim: October 1985 VOL. III NO. 7: Pro-lifers demand AG resign
On August 22, Ontario’s Attorney General, Ian Scott, held a press conference. He expressed his growing concern with “the conduct of many demonstrators” at the Morgentaler “clinic” on Harbord Street.
Scott produced two letters: one from Cardinal Carter, Archbishop of the Toronto Roman Catholic archdiocese, and another from Norma Scarborough, president of the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League. Both agreed, according to Scott, to limit the number of picketers at the abortuary to five at any one time. Scott then read a statement in which he described the picketing situation at the abortuary as intolerable, inconvenient and dangerous for the residents and businesses in the immediate area. He said that “tensions are rising and incidents of criminal behaviour are increasing.”
Scott refused the option of closing down the illegal abortuary, saying that he was “mindful of the fact that the question of the legality of Dr. Morgentaler’s conduct is still before the courts…The Attorney General’s appeal to the Court of Appeal has been argued; the Court of Appeal is considering its decision.”
The Attorney General argued further that, because the case may be before the courts for a long time, neighbours should not be “indefinitely subjected” to “disruption and harassment.”
He described the letters from the Cardinal and Scarborough as “an extraordinary act of public moral leadership.” He then opened the press conference to questions, (see below).
Following Scott’s press conference, both Scarborough and Ellen Harbinson, president of the Harbord Street Association, spoke to the press. Harbinson thanked the Liberal Party for their support and said that the move to limit picketers was “a step in the right direction to protect innocent people.”
The reporters and television cameras then headed off to the Campaign Life office where president Jim Hughes, legal counsel Gwen Landolt and two picket organizers, David Lloyd and George Orisini, held their own press conference.
Gwen Landolt protested the Attorney General’s attempt to limit picketing while allowing the illegal abortuary to stay open. She demanded the Attorney General’s resignation, saying that “he is unfit and unqualified to hold office as he is not administering justice in a fair and equitable manner.”
Mrs. Landolt also pointed out that the Liberal government had not made public the petition signed by over 3,000 neighbourhood residents asking for the abortuary to be closed. They had, however, acted on30 letters received from businessmen on the street objecting to the picketers.
George Orisini, who is on the picket line daily, stated that insinuations of violence on the part of the picketers are completely false. He added that it wad going to be “business as usual on the picket line” and because Cardinal Carter did not speak for the entire pro-life movement, many of the pro-life picketers did not feel at all bound by the so-called agreement negotiated by the Attorney General.