Folks, this is a worthy cause. The Government of Ontario is collecting abortion statistics and then denying its citizens reasonable access to that information. If they collect abortion statistics in the aggregate, not violating anyone’s privacy, that is and must remain public information. Today, the Ontario government has decided it will keep that information secret. I’m not quite clear on why. After all, you can be entirely pro-choice and still want to know whether the abortion rate is going up or down, or know whether more teenage mothers/advanced age mothers/what have you are having abortions. This is basic research of broader interest. More information here and below. NB: I had a eureka moment the other day with regards to charitable giving. I used to think I give something substantial or not at all. But guess what? ten dollars helps–and that is two lattés. And that’s the very nature of crowd funding. Of course, you may choose to give a big amount too, I’m sure Pat Maloney wouldn’t say no. But it’s helpful to know I can show support with a small donation and not break the bank.
In January, 2012, the Ontario government quietly slipped in an amendment to the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) whereby all information related to abortion is no longer accessible through freedom of Information requests.
Section 65(5.7) reads: “This Act does not apply to records relating to the provision of abortion services.”
Yet one of the FIPPA’s purposes is to guarantee access to government information to maintain transparency and accountability. Yet this addition undermines this purpose and was never debated in the Legislature.
I am a pro-life blogger and I ran up against this roadblock in January 2014. When my request for statistical information was denied (under the new provision) Iappealed the decision on my own, but lost.
I then retained a lawyer on a pro bono basis and appealed again. After a third appeal, I finally received the information. The government released this information to me “outside of the FIPPA process” mere days before my hearing in court. But the bad law remains on the books.
Together with ARPA Canada, I am now challenging the law itself as unconstitutional. We have filed a notice of application asking the Ontario Superior Court to strike down section 65(5.7) of Ontario’s FIPPA. Freedom of Information is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, falling under the freedom of expression protection. A successful Charter challenge would produce the information we are looking for, would require the Ontario legislature to amend the legislation, and would expose the extremism of the Ontario government in banning all information, including basic statistical information, from the citizens of Ontario in order to hide the injustice of abortion.
On the April 27th edition of Lighthouse News, ARPA featured an interview with myself and André Schutten about the history of this file, and some of the particulars of the case. You can hear that interview here:
See the PDFs and links below for more details:
Notice of Application – ARPA FIPPA
FAQs on FIPPA
This go-fund-me campaign will help me raise funds to pay for my legal fees related to this challenge. We believe that open, transparent, and accountable government is crucial for a healthy democracy.