Protesters shut down local pro-life MP
Pro-life and pro-choice advocates clashed last week when protesters disrupted a talk by Kitchener-Centre MP Stephen Woodworth at the University of Waterloo last Wednesday.
Woodworth was giving a speech to students on his initiative, Motion 312, which aims to have a review of the Criminal Code of Canada distinction of when life begins. The campus pro-life group UW Students for Life arranged the event.
“I was there to speak about democratic values as they relate to Motion 312, in particular my idea that the state ought not to have power to designate anyone as non-human without regard to their actual or true nature as a human being,” he explained.
Woodworth and counter-protestor Ethan Jackson, who was dressed in a vagina costume, gave varying accounts of the series of events that led up to the early conclusion to the event.
Jackson, a third-year arts student at Wilfrid Laurier University, said that the counter-protest group listened to Woodworth speak for 34 minutes before becoming verbal about their views. When they began protesting, according to Jackson, “the lecture was not going because he called a 15 minute break.”
The protestors were a mix of students from both universities, as well as community members.
“I was attempting to continue when they began their operation,” Woodworth countered, saying that he had only been talking for 15-20 minutes and was responding to a question at the time.
“It didn’t seem possible to stop them, so it just seemed reasonable to terminate the event. Once they left, there were still a few people who had remained behind and we had a nice discussion.”
The video of the disagreement was later posted to YouTube. Some of the protesters carried signs, included one which said “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.”
The protestors came up to the front of the room into the area where Woodworth was giving his lecture.
While the protesters were in opposition to Woodworth’s motion and identified as pro-choice, Jackson clarified that that did not mean they were pro-abortion.
“We want the choice for access to safe and accessible health care. What motion 312 is doing is ignoring the entire medical structure and the procedures in place around abortion,” Jackson said.
Woodworth felt that the actions of the group demonstrated disregard for democratic values.
“This is not conducive to free speech or democracy, to suppress the views of those who do not agree with you is the very embodiment of anti-democratic behaviour,” he said. “But it is a symptom of abortionism to want to set abortion above every democratic value.”
However, according to Jackson, “What was happening at the podium and my talk with him is not an infringement of freedom of speech; because there was no lecture going on.”
The counter-protesters left voluntarily, Woodworth clarified, but only after the meeting had been terminated.
When asked by The Cord whether he would return to UW to speak on that topic, Woodworth responded, “I would not refuse an invitation to come back just because of anti-democratic extremists. If we do that, if we start allowing such people to suppress views they don’t agree with, all hope is lost.”