Linda Gibbons to get a hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada

  • February 23, 2011

TORONTO - The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to hear jailed activist Linda Gibbons' appeal of a temporary injunction banning protest at downtown Toronto abortion clinics later this year.

Her lawyer, Daniel Santoro, expects the Supreme Court could hear her case in the fall.

Gibbons, a 62-year-old great-grandmother, has been arrested 20 times over the last 16 years, spending half of that time in maximum security prisons for different offences under the Criminal Code. This for violating a temporary 1994 civil court injunction protecting downtown Toronto abortion clinics from protesters such as Gibbons, an injunction that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Ontario. She is not permitted within 60 feet of the clinics. Gibbons has violated the injunction each time by praying within the no-go zone.

“The issue is whether the crown can use criminal courts to enforce orders in civil or family proceedings,” said Santoro. “If we're right, it won't be possible any more.”

“This case could mean justice is finally served to a pro-life heroine who has spent eight of the last 16 years in jail for breaking an unjust, not to mention a temporary injunction,” said Alissa Golob of Campaign Life Coalition Youth.

“This is a serious abuse of legal process and we applaud the Supreme Court's decision to hear this case.”

The Catholic Civil Rights League is also pleased Gibbons' case is going to the land's highest court. Executive director Joanne McGarry said the Supreme Court is in a “better position to evaluate the appropriateness of the charges.”

Gibbons' latest stay in prison has lasted nearly two years because she refuses bail conditions — which include that she not protest near the clinics. She refuses however, arguing it restricts her right to protest.

Santoro cautioned while a win in the Supreme Court could get Gibbons out of jail, it would likely not quash the injunction.

Meanwhile, Gibbons is due at the Ontario Court of Justice on March 7 for breaking the injunction on Jan. 20, 2009.

In a previous interview with The Register, Gibbons shared her anguish at having an abortion as a 21-year-old college student. After that experience, Gibbons, who grew up in the Brethren Church, said she saw a need to stand up for the pro-life cause.

During her time in jail, Gibbons said she has counselled female inmates who find themselves in a similar situation to choose life.

“The minute we're in that situation where life is, in principle, disposable and that moral ethic is considered acceptable in society, that's the thinking we need to reform (in) our society, to go back to the sanctity of life as a bedrock principle and social policy should always reflect the protection of life,” she said.

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