I received a phone call from the Trial Coordinator with the PEI Supreme Court this morning (Monday, April 18) informing me that my Application for a Judicial Review of PEI’s abortion law has been set down for a hearing on July 18, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.
The Minister of Health and Wellness for the PEI government – the “respondent” in this legal action – has yet to file a response to my application record. I had understood from reading Rule 68 of the PEI Rules of Court [Proceedings for Judicial Review] that the Minister was obligated to respond by the end of last week. Section 68.04 (4) states: “The respondent shall deliver an application record and a factum within thirty days after service of the applicant’s application record and factum.” That 30 day period expired at 4pm last Thursday (April 14th).
However, when I called the Court last week to find out what comes next, I learned – and this legal effort is definitely a learning process for me – that the Respondent can actually apply for an extension of time to file a response, and can apply either before or after the 30 day period expires, which seems strange to me, but sure enough, Rule 3.02 (2) of the PEI Rules of Court states: “A motion for an order extending time may be made before or after the expiration of the time prescribed.”
I also learned in the course of this morning’s discussion with the Trial Coordinator that just because the case has been set down for a hearing, it doesn’t mean that the PEI government can’t still file motions in the interim in a bid to have the case thrown out on some legal technicality. The Minister of Health may argue, for example, that I don’t have proper standing to bring forward this case. I have publicly asked the province not to do this, and to allow a Supreme Court judge to rule on the facts, arguments and legal merits of the case, but I guess I’ll just have to wait to see what course of action the Minister decides to take.
In the meantime, I have written two guest opinions which I’m hoping the Guardian, Journal Pioneer and Eastern & West Prince Graphics will publish within the next couple of weeks. I sent the first one out to all these newspapers yesterday, with the title: The names that must not be spoken aloud. I have created a new tab on the front page of my website and I’m still in the process of uploading links to Guest Opinions and Letters to the Editor I have published over the past couple of years. I will post a link to the second Guest Opinion piece I have written next week after I send it out to the newspapers. That article will be a more direct challenge to the premier to not change PEI’s abortion policy and laws and will be tiled, “A Public Letter to Premier MacLaughlin on Abortion.”
Also, I will be speaking at the annual meeting of the PEI Right to Life which will take place on Saturday, April 23rd from 10AM till 2PM at the Christian Reform Church located at 153 Mount Edward Rd, Charlottetown. I will be uploading another post sometime shortly after that meeting to share any new information and discuss what I see as the most important short and long-term strategies in the ongoing struggle to protect the lives of unborn children in PEI.