Please note that we have had no adverse issues exercising our right of assembly and peaceful demonstration. Police are made aware of our gatherings, and they have been supportive of our rights.
Parliament passed the law to address pandemic-related protests, but the law could also be applied to the spreading of alleged "misinformation" related to sharing the pro-life message. The new offences are: 1. "Intimidation"-- intent to provoke a state of fear in order to impede the obtaining or performing of health services and 2."Obstruction or Interference with Access." Does this affect our AWARENESS WEEKS? Someone could claim "Intimidation" or fear from seeing our signs. Pro-life volunteers could also be accused of obstruction or interference with access (none of our volunteers obstructs or interferes, since this requires physical obstruction and we are so far away from any entrance). It is unlikely that any charges, if laid, would result in a conviction. We would collectively claim that we were simply 'communicating information', because, as an educational charity, that is what our signs are designed to do. As usual, local police will be advised that we are out there, and a good relationship has been maintained with them and with hospital administration. There will always be a group of us (usually from 10 to 20 people), and we are only present for an hour each day. Alliance for Life Ontario has reported NO incidences of any issues with C-3 for any of the 40 Days for Life vigils and we don't expect incidences with Awareness weeks, although we must be aware of the possibilities .
ARCC (Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada) has orchestrated much of the attack on the efforts of the pro-life movement in Canada.
Forty Days For Life US response to questions about Bill C-3 (would apply to Awareness Week demonstrations as well)
We have received legal counsel from the 40 Days for Life legal team. Here is what they said,
"… We know that many of you are concerned about the recently passed C-3 legislation and its possible effect on your 40 Days for Life campaigns. We have a legal opinion from Canadian legal counsel on how C-3 might impact your vigils.
While the law was passed to address pandemic-related protests, it is also clear that the law takes aim at those allegedly spreading "misinformation" related to sharing the pro-life message. The bill creates two new offences:
"Intimidation"--intent to provoke a state of fear in order to impede anyone obtaining or performing health services
"Obstruction or Interference with Access"
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR VIGIL?
A vigil participant could be charged with "Intimidation" simply by standing outside an abortion clinic if somebody interprets his presence as provoking a "state of fear" to prevent a woman from getting an abortion or an abortion worker from coming to work.
A vigil participant could also be charged with "obstruction or interference with access at a place where health services are provided" for sharing the pro-life message near a facility where abortions are performed.
WILL CHARGES ACTUALLY BE FILED AGAINST VIGIL PARTICIPANTS?
Whether campaign participants will be charged for standing vigil depends primarily on whether pro-abortion activists lobby against your vigils and whether police lay charges in response to the lobbying against your vigil.
IF VIGIL PARTICIPANTS ARE CHARGED FOR INTIMIDATION OR OBSTRUCTION/INTERFERENCE, WILL THEY BE CONVICTED?
While charges might be filed, it is less likely--though still possible--that those charges result in a conviction.
A conviction for "intimidation" requires the Crown to prove an "intent to provoke a state of fear" (meaning that vigil participants knew or foresaw that their "conduct would be certain or substantially certain to result in the forbidden consequences") AND to prove that the accused provoked this state of fear in order to impede the victim from procuring or providing "health services."
A conviction for "obstruction and interference" requires a "physical obstruction, interruption, or interference." Pro-lifers might claim that they were simply communicating information as a defence.
While it would appear that the Crown faces a high burden in winning a conviction for "intimidation" or "obstruction and interference" against 40 Days for Life vigil participants, nothing is guaranteed--especially with a hostile climate against Canadian pro-lifers.”
Link to the ACT https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/bill/C-3/third-reading