Earlier today, a permanent injunction (court file no. BC/115/2013) was granted to the plaintiff Vitalité Health Network by Justice Reginald Legér of the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick to prevent protesters from holding demonstrations on the property of the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst. The permanent injunction follows from an interlocutory judgement that was previously granted to the plaintiff following an incident in September 2012 in which an ambulance was forced to come to an abrupt stop - causing a paramedic to fall over and a patient’s mask to become dislodged - due to the presence of anti-abortion protesters on the access road to the hospital’s emergency department.
The defendant protesters maintained that they had “nothing to do with the incident,” emphasizing that their “40 Days for Life” group consists primarily of senior citizens who seek to promote a pro-life message through silent prayer and vigil. Although both the plaintiff and Justice Legér rejected this assertion, they conceded that the grant of a permanent injunction would infringe the defendants’ Charter right to freedom of religion, expression and assembly. However, Justice Legér concluded that the plaintiff’s right to ensure “the safety of all hospital users” as well as “the good order and proper functioning of the hospital environment” ultimately took precedence over this right. The court further rejected the defendants’ proposed compromise that would have seen a limited number of demonstrators allowed to protest for a set number of hours each day at a fixed location beside the hospital’s access road.