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Ottawa police committed to securing Bank Street abortion clinic: Chief

A recent Toronto Star column claimed the department isn't doing enough to protect women from protesters outside the Morgentaler Clinic.

Two men stand outside the Morgentaler Clinic on Bank Street with protest signs on a rainy Wednesday evening, April 19, 2017.

Haley Ritchie / Metro Order this photo

Two men stand outside the Morgentaler Clinic on Bank Street with protest signs on a rainy Wednesday evening, April 19, 2017.

Ottawa’s chief of police has responded to criticism that his department is not doing enough to protect the city’s Morgentaler Clinic from anti-abortion protesters.

Charles Bordeleau said in a statement that police are aware of the situation and have been dealing with it for years. He said police have again reached out to the clinic’s management about protesters who gather outside the clinic’s Bank Street door.

Bordeleau said that if the clinic wants to have a “bubble zone” enforced it would have to go through the court system. 

“That is something we simply do not have the authority to grant as a police service,” he said.

The statement appears to be responding to a Toronto Star column that criticized Ottawa police for not doing more to protect the clinic. In the article, columnist Heather Mallick said the protesters can be threatening to women entering the clinic.

She said that protesters ignore a bylaw requiring them to stay on the sidewalk opposite the clinic’s entrance. She also said the police do not properly enforce this bylaw.

Bordeleau said that bylaws are meant to apply not to individual protesters but to large-scale rallies.

Mallick’s article was posted on Reddit.com, where it received more than 270 comments. Some commenters said they would contact their members of Parliament about the issue.

Bordeleau said the police would continue dialogue on the protest issue to ensure the safety of those involved.

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