New Glasgow Police investigate alleged violation of Bubble Zone law after anti-abortion protest
Police in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, are investigating an alleged violation of a law banning abortion protests near health facilities after a protest last month that was reportedly approved by one of their officers.
The Campaign Life Coalition held a protest on East River Road across from Aberdeen Hospital as part of an annual day of “peaceful pro-life witness and prayer” on October 3.
Const. Ken MacDonald, spokesperson for the New Glasgow Regional Police, said an investigation was opened following a complaint received about a protest and that police were consulting with Crown prosecutors. He declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Megan Boudreau, who successfully asked last year to curtail anti-abortion protests through bubble zone legislation, told CBC News she filed a police complaint shortly after the demonstration.
“I feel exhausted,” she said in an interview. “I thought it was over. I thought I was done working hard for it.”
Boudreau presented her petition to the provincial NDP last year, which was tabled by MP Claudia Chender, with a bill ban anti-abortion demonstrations within 50 meters of health centers, pharmacies and doctors’ offices. The previous Liberal government made this bill law in March 2020.
When she arrived outside Aberdeen Hospital last month, Boudreau said she immediately approached protesters to tell them they were breaking the law. They replied that the police had given them permission to be there.
Video captured by Boudreau on the day of the protest shows several people standing just north of the intersection of East River Road and Park Street, on the sidewalk in front of the hospital. Many of them are holding signs, including those that say “Abortion hurts women” and “Abortion kills babies”.
Anti-abortion protesters are separated from the southeast corner of the hospital by a four-lane road. It is not known how far they are from the edge of hospital property. Boudreau estimated it to be around 20 meters.
The Campaign Life Coalition did not make the organizers of the New Glasgow event available for comment, but a staff member at the group’s national headquarters also said they received police clearance.
Boudreau said police followed up on his complaint with a phone call days later and confirmed that an officer unfamiliar with the bubble zone law gave the coalition the green light to protest.
“Obviously, they’re not communicating the new laws effectively,” Boudreau said.
MacDonald said it is the responsibility of officers, in general, to know the laws of the land.
“An officer has a duty to be informed of the laws that are established,” he said.
Boudreau’s video shows protesters stationed at the edge of the First Baptist Church property. Church pastor John Dunnett told CBC News by email that his church was not involved in organizing the protest, but gave the organizers permission to use the parking lot.
The PC government this fall passed a new bubble zone law that bans all forms of non-union protest outside health facilities. The bill, which established a 50-meter “safe-access bubble zone”, was introduced on October 14.