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Tory MP Vellacott inciting anti-abortion activists to break law: Rae

OTTAWA – A Conservative MP who recommended a Diamond Jubilee medal to a jailed anti-abortion crusader could be breaking the law himself, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae says.


 

OTTAWA – A Conservative MP who recommended a Diamond Jubilee medal to a jailed anti-abortion crusader could be breaking the law himself, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae says.

Rae says Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott “crossed the line” last week when he nominated Mary Wagner for a medal commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne.

Wagner is currently in jail in Toronto awaiting trial after forcing her way into an abortion clinic in August — this after she was convicted in March of committing a similar offence last November.

In Rae’s opinion, Vellacott went even further over the line this week when he subsequently issued a news release which disclosed correspondence between himself and Wagner’s grateful mother.

The release carried the headline: “Intended as edification and encouragement for others.”

“By encouraging others, this could clearly be interpreted as inciting others to break the law, which in itself is a criminal offence,” Rae told The Canadian Press.

Rae said it’s up to the police to determine whether to pursue the matter.

But he added: “The broader question is this: Does Mr. (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper condone members of his caucus encouraging people to harass women seeking medical services and break the law?

“Whether a prosecution would be successful is not in my purview. But the issue of political responsibility is clear enough.”

Vellacott declined an interview. But a spokesman, Tim Bloedow, said the MP was not encouraging anyone to engage in one action or another, but instead was simply “lifting their spirits.”

The Supreme Court has set a high bar for convicting someone of inciting or counselling others to commit an illegal act, interpreting incitement to mean “actively inducing” someone to commit a crime.

Bernard Dickens, professor emeritus with the University of Toronto’s international reproductive and sexual health law program, said he doesn’t believe Vellacott has crossed that line. Nor has he ventured into new territory for a politician in praising someone engaged in civil disobedience.

Dickens pointed out that many Canadians, including politicians, supported Dr. Henry Morgentaler during the 1960s and 1970s, when he openly defied the laws that prohibited or limited a woman’s right to choose abortion.

Still, the Harper government has prided itself on its “tough on crime” agenda, cracking down on repeat offenders and those who incite crimes.

Just last week, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued guidelines under which he could use proposed new powers to bar foreigners from visiting Canada. The guidelines say the new law would apply to those who promote or encourage terrorism, incite hatred against a specific group or “promote, counsel, encourage or incite serious criminal activity.”

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson dodged repeated requests for comment on Rae’s assertion that Vellacott may have broken the law himself by inciting others to harass abortion clinics.

Julie Di Mambro responded by explaining how the Jubilee medals are awarded and then referring to comments made by Nicholson last week, before Vellacott issued his latest news release.

New Democrat MP Niki Ashton would not go so far as to say Vellacott may be inciting others to break the law. But she said it’s outrageous that Vellacott has rewarded women who’ve “broken the law to prevent women from accessing what is a fundamental right.”

“Obviously there’s multiple standards here,” she said of the Harper government’s apparent indifference to Vellacott’s actions.

In addition to Wagner, Vellacott has also nominated Linda Gibbons — another anti-abortion activist who has been charged repeatedly for encroaching on abortion clinics and harassing staff and patients — for a Diamond Jubilee medal.

In the correspondence released Wednesday, Jane Wagner thanks Vellacott for his “great courage in acknowledging the sacrifice” her daughter has made to save the lives of “babies who are about to be killed” and the mothers “who will be forever harmed by aborting their children.”

“I long for the day when Canada once again recognizes the sanctity of human life. Then the babies will be safe and my daughter can come home,” she writes.

In response, Vellacott tells Jane Wagner he was “moved to tears” by her gratitude.

“What a precious mother you are to accept the mission your daughter is called to, although your mother’s heart misses her dearly,” he says.

“When I read those words, I thought of all the ‘daughters who can’t come home’ because they were aborted in the womb and the anguished regret of some of those young moms as they realize that.

“I also thought of those ‘daughters who can come home’ because of the gentle counsel of Mary, as young women glimpsed a ray of hope, saw through the lie and chose life instead of death for their child.”

Vellacott signs off with the closing, “In His Majesty’s Service.”

The recommendations for a Diamond Jubilee medal go to the governor general’s office, but the process virtually amounts to a rubber stamp.


 

Tory MP Vellacott inciting anti-abortion activists to break law: Rae

  1. Woah, the whole thing was so much claptrap, but “In HIS Majesty’s Service?” Isn’t that treasonous, or is sixty years too short a time for this nutjob to recognize a woman is on the throne!

    • There are some people here who still refer to roads as ‘the King’s highway’.

      • That is excusable (slightly) if the road was built in the King’s time and I believe that’s why those people do it. But this MP, who swore an oath to become an MP it must be remembered, is in Her Majesty’s service. I very much doubt–heck I’ll go out on a limb here and state it unequivocally–this MP was never in His Majesty’s service.

        • I doubt it. In England roads have been built for thousands of years….you’d go nuts trying to remember in what reign it was. And does upgrading count?

          It only ever meant it belonged to the govt.

          The king is dead. Long live the queen.

          Change comes hard to some people, but that is really overdoing it.

    • He is referencing our current emperor, not any historical one.

      • So, definitely treasonous, then.

  2. Harper will remain mute (at least publicly) on this issue because he doesn’t want to incite the wrath of the “pro life” red meat social conservative element among the ranks of his enablers.

    • Or the wrath of staunch pro-abortionists, as PM he represents both groups: and has stated many times he will not revisit the issue.
      Funny, the oppositions, usually accusing him of muffling, and silencing backenchers…. and still not happy.
      Private citizens could make nominations, as well as groups – by the way..

      • “Funny, the oppositions, usually accusing him of muffling, and silencing backenchers….”

        Given the inane talking points his backbenchers are limited to parrotting day after relentless day in the House, that’s not an unfounded allegation.

        The fact that the occasional rogue animal, like Vellacott, strays over the fence merely provides a rare and glaring exception that proves the rule.

        In any event, I very much doubt that Harper cares about inciting the wrath of pro-choice advocates through his silence on Vellacott’s conduct. They’re not a constituency who’d ever vote for him anyway.

        • Living up to your name I see… LOL

          • I try my best. Thank you for noticing!

          • s’okay I like to give everyone, the time of day!

  3. Of course Mr. Rae, the prime minister condones members of his caucus encouraging citizens to break the law! In fact he rewards them for doing so. He named justice minister a man who had broken the law on political financing in his province and directed his prosecutors in his province to not apply a law (on registering gun).
    There is a world of difference between believing in the rule of law and believing in being tough on crime. Or maybe one is a liberal value while the other is a conservative value.

  4. Liberal leader, Bob Rae very conviniently ignores the fact that so called “Doctor” Henry Morgentaler, who started this abortion nonsense in Canada, is a pseudo-medical fraudster with only three years of medical school to his name.

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