Bubble zone legislation in Ontario



June 6, 2017
The Ontario government has signaled that it plans to introduce a new law later this year to specifically ban protests outside all abortion clinics in the province. A so-called “bubble zone” is already in effect for the Morgentaler abortion clinic in Toronto due to a special court injunction, but there have been complaints about the actions of some protestors outside a clinic in Ottawa, so the government is moving to make the ban province-wide.

ARPA’s Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten, says there are big problems with the legislation. “To quote Christie Blatchford from the National Post, who is herself pro-choice, the State is using an ‘elephant gun’ to kill a flea.” Schutten says just because there have been a few complaints about protestors outside one clinic in Ottawa, it’s “ludicrous” for the government to impose a total ban on all clinics across the province. He says the proposed law would be a “total infringement” on freedom of expression, amounting to “total overkill.”

There’s already a law like this in place in BC, which has been upheld by the Court of Appeal in that province, but the issue has never actually been taken to the Supreme Court of Canada.

ARPA lawyer John Sikkema is also researching another issue around this. The argument could be made, Schutten says, that the province has no jurisdiction to make such a law; that “the infringement of expression in this way is something that only the federal government could pass.” Sikkema is researching that issue over the summer, and hopes to publish on the issue in a legal journal later this year. The law will likely be introduced in the fall sitting of the Ontario legislature.

Bill 163: Bubble Zone (Ontario), Bubble Zones, Ontario Email Us 

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