City of Kelowna Still on the Anti-Choice Bandwagon

by | September 3, 2011
filed under Can-Con, Feminism

Earlier this year the Mayor of Ottawa drew fire for proclaiming “Respect for Life Day,” ignoring his city’s policy that no proclamations would be ordered that were “politically or religiously motivated.” And now I heard that for the fourth consecutive year, Mayor Sharon Shepherd of Kelowna has agreed to proclaim “Protect Human Life Week” in her city, at the request of the Kelowna Right to Life Society.

According to the Kelowna Capital News:

September 24 to October 2 has quietly been proclaimed as Protect Human Life Week in Kelowna.


In part, the proclamation reads: “It is the intention of this proclamation to promote respect and protection to all human life, especially the infirm, the aged, the handicapped and the unborn.”

The Kelowna Right to Life Society’s director Marlon Bartram (why is it always a dude heading these things?) believes the week is needed partly because Kelowna General Hospital continues to provide abortions, which it has done for 11 years, abortion being considered a core medical service under the Canada Health Act. “At KGH, the killing of unborn children continues,” said Bartram in the Kelowna Capital News.

As if having a proclamation weren’t enough, the week is an occasion for Bartram’s group to host a number of events, including a Walk for Life, a pro-life film festival, and something called a “Life Chain”. If anyone knows what the “Life Chain” is, I’d love to know so please comment below. None of the organization’s materials gave any details.

Even if Kelowna doesn’t have a policy like Ottawa, it’s pretty reasonable to expect that your own municipality wouldn’t make a public statement supporting a group trying to take away your rights to “life, liberty, and security of person” guaranteed to you under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The City has no legal ability to change abortion law, so it would’ve been pretty easy for the Mayor and Council to refuse to grant a proclamation. But even though the proclamation has no legal effect on abortion, it is a method of intimidation, telling women seeking abortions in Kelowna that their community is not behind them and they should think twice before accessing this legal medical procedure.

This is especially true since it was at the request of Pro Life Kelowna, who undertakes intimidation tactics like displaying graphic pictures of fetuses on public roads and outside Kelowna General Hospital on a monthly basis, according to their website. I think a pretty good rule for a City Council would be: “Don’t grant proclamations to groups who have a ‘babies killed since 1969’ counter on their website.” Pro Life Kelowna has the right to say what it wants and to hold events that don’t violate abortion bubble zone laws, but the City does not have to promote their messages.

Jane at the blog The Abortion Monologues is calling on people to boycott Kelowna wines and other exports for the week of September 24, and maybe longer. I’m not sure that’s the way to go, but I do agree with Jane’s suggestion to email Kelowna Mayor and Council at

Mayor Shepherd and Kelowna Council shouldn’t be able to make this proclamation “quietly”. They should be forced to defend their action like the Mayor of Ottawa did, and they should be held accountable in this fall’s municipal elections.




(Photo by Bradenm via Wikimedia Commons)

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