Cyril Winter demonstrating outside the Morgentaler abortion facility in the fall of 2017. Photo by Deb Gyapong

Abortion bubble zone battle will go on

  • March 27, 2018

OTTAWA – Challenges to Ontario’s abortion bubble zone law will continue despite the recent death of the first person charged for violating the new law.

Cyril Winter died March 9 but pro-life organizations say opposition to the law will not die with him. Winter was to appear in court March 23 in a case that presented an opportunity to challenge the constitutional legitimacy of the legislation, which bans protest within 50 metres of an abortion facility.

“A challenge is likely in the future, the form for which remains under discussion, be it a criminal proceeding or some other challenge of the legislation,” said Phil Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League

“We do not think the government has met its burden for the need to limit the constitutional right of freedom of expression.”

André Schutten, director of law and public policy for the Christian organization ARPA Canada, said there is “definitely an appetite to challenge the law.” 

Winter often stood outside the Morgentaler abortion facility in Ottawa wearing a sandwich board featuring graphic pictures of aborted babies. But when he was arrested inside the exclusion zone, he said his sign said nothing about abortion or life, so he did not think he violated the law.

More than 200 people attended Winter’s March 24 funeral at St. Joseph’s Parish the day after his scheduled court appearance. He died following heart surgery to insert stents into blocked arteries. He was 70.

Fr. Tony Van Hee, who has fasted and prayed for an end to abortion for more than 25 years on Parliament Hill, concelebrated at the funeral Mass. Van Hee said he was with Winter for an hour the day before the operation and found him in good humour.

“He wasn’t concerned about himself, he was concerned about others,” Van Hee said. “He took me over to a woman who was dying and I was ready and willing to pray with her.”

Van Hee called the bubble zone legislation “criminal.”  

Conservative MP and federal Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Lemieux also attended the funeral.

“It’s an honour to be here,” said Lemieux. “He certainly was a great example to all the people who love life.”

He called the bubble zone legislation “against our charter,” noting that in section 2a, there is the “right to peaceful assembly.”

“Cy was a witness to the unjustness of the law that was passed,” he said.

 Former RCMP officer Frank Barrett said one day a week he prayed across the street from the Morgentaler facility. He cautioned Winter about the bubble zone and tried to persuade him to stand across the street because that might prevent his arrest.

Winter told him, “No, I’m within my rights,” Barrett said.

Barrett said he realized later that maybe his “was the coward’s way.”

“Cy stood his ground in what he believed in. He did nothing wrong,” Barrett said.

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