Pro-family advocates reject plea bargain to lesser “trespass” charge in free speech case
Regina Leader-Post: “Anti-gay activists awaiting decision on mischief charge”
CTV News: “Regina judge reserves verdict in trial for two anti-gay activists”
CKOM Radio: Whatcott, LaBarbera trial begins at Regina Provincial Court
REGINA, Saskatchewan, Canada—Regina Provincial Judge Marylynne Beaton said Thursday that a written decision on the criminal “mischief” charge against pro-family activists Peter LaBarbera and Canadian Bill Whatcott will be handed down on December 22—after a day-long trial that pitted arguments for the free dissemination of ideas against bureaucrats’ desires to enforce a pro-“gay” “Respectful Workplace” policy at the University of Regina.
Crown Prosecutor James Fitz-Gerald sought to portray Whatcott as a disruptive force who believed himself above the law. “It’s the Crown’s position … that the University of Regina owns and occupies that property, that land…I say the university was completely within its rights to (ask them to leave). Mr. Whatcott and … Mr. LaBarbera were not within their rights to refuse,” reported the Regina Leader-Post.
But Michael Weger, defense attorney for LaBarbera and Whatcott, argued that the “mischief” charge was unwarranted—as the two men did not disrupt students ability to go to class—and said it contains a free speech provision for communicating ideas that should have kept police from bringing the charge in the first place.
“Communicating information is exactly what happened on April 14 …,” Weger said, according to the Leader-Post. “Isn’t university about different ideas and different viewpoints? As soon as we get to a point when we start sending young adults to an institution that tells them exactly how they must think and what to think, then our students stop getting an education.”
University of Regina Provost Thomas Chase testified that Whatcott and LaBarbera violated the school’s “Respectful Workplace” campus policy that bans discrimination and harassment based on sexuality. After making a secular “affirmation” to tell the truth rather than swear on the Bible (he was the only witness to do so), Chase said he could not recollect a single student or U-R staff member complaining about the Whatcott-led small pro-family protest at U-R.
U-Regina Director of Security Pat Patton testified that she made the call to eject Whatcott and LaBarbera—in consultation with Chase and others—in consultation with Chase and others–after seeing Whatcott’s placard: “Sodomy Is a Sin.” Patton also cited as violating the Respectful Workplace policy the tee-shirt worn by LaBarbera and Whatcott decrying—as she recalled–“the murder of a young lady by a homosexual,” and a paper passed out expressing “concerns about homosexuals and gay persons.”
The tee-shirt was actually one provided by Whatcott condemning the murder of pious Chicago middle-aged Catholic Mary Stachowicz by a homosexual (bisexual) man, Nicholas Gutierrez. The paper she referred to was a two-page flier passed out by LaBarbera laying out the health risks of homosexual behavior.
Patton’s testimony revealed that it was predominantly Whatcott’s and LaBarbera’s advocacy against homosexuality—rather than abortion—that touched off the move to expel them leading to their arrest.
Whatcott: One Canadian who won’t back down
In a testy trial exchange with Fitz-Gerald, Whatcott demonstrated the unbending determination to get out his pro-life and anti-homosexual-agenda messaging that has made him Enemy Number One of Canadian social leftists and “gay”-affirming government officials alike. Although this was LaBarbera’s first free speech trial, Whatcott has gone through more than a dozen to defend his right to pass out literature and hold signs in Canada opposing abortion and homosexualism.
The exchange began with the Crown prosecutor referring to a previous case in which Whatcott’s campus truth fliers were called “litter” by university. Fitz-Gerald dismissively referred to Whatcott’s “litter” case—and Whatcott shot back that he was exonerated in the case, thus negating that description.
Fitz-Gerald restated his main argument that Whatcott had thrice refused a request to get off “private” property—and Whatcott responded that as a Canadian citizen he has a Charter right to get his message out at a public university.
Then the Crown prosecutor asserted that Whatcott was aware that he was in violation of the University’s “Respectful Workplace” policy. Whatcott responded that the University’s implementation of that policy discriminated against his religious viewpoint by disallowing him to rent a table at the Student Union to present his views.
On Wednesday, Whatcott and LaBarbera rejected a plea bargain offer of a lesser “trespassing” charge that would have treated the alleged offense as less than a misdemeanor while admitting still guilt. Whatcott said the offer shows the weakness of the Crown’s case.
More coming on this story.
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