Event to commemorate silver anniversary of pro-life court case

Press Release:

Joe Borowski Stories:  A Commemoration of Joe Borowski on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Trial for Life, Regina 1983.


On labour day weekend, September 5th and 6th, 2008, an event is being organized in Wynyard, Saskatchewan, to pay tribute to Joe Borowski.  Mr. Borowski became synonymous with the pro-life efforts in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s to defend humanity against the unspeakable horrors of death by abortion.  Joe Borowski is associated with several court challenges on behalf of the developing child in the womb, including a history-making trial in May, 1983, twenty five years ago.  


 “Joe Borowski Stories” includes a wine and cheese reception on Friday, September 5th with a guest speaker.  Saturday begins with a church service at 9 am at Sacred Heart Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wynyard, followed by prayers at the local cemetery.  “Mr. Borowski, who is a folk hero to the pro-life movement, is buried in the Catholic cemetery in Wynyard,” explains Fr. Jeffrey Stephaniuk, an organizer of this project.  “As we gather on this weekend to learn and re-learn the themes of his work and especially the court case of May, 1983,” we can also pray for him, for the repose of his soul, and say a word of thanks to him for his defense of the humanity of the pre-born child.” 


It has been twenty-five years since one of several attempts in his lifetime to challenge what were at that time Canada’s existing, and already very permissive, abortion laws.  This trial took three weeks in May, 1983, and has been described as the most important trial in Saskatchewan’s history, as well as the most important trial in Regina since the trial of Louis Riel. World renowned expert witnesses entered testimony into the court record defending the humanity of the child developing within its mother’s womb.  From his own testimony, Mr. Borowski, and referring to abortion as “state murder”, he is on record as saying “I will do anything and everything humanly possible to stop child murder, no matter what the price or consequences.”


Mr. Borowski was born in Wishart, Saskatchewan.  He became well-known in Canadian politics when he lived in Manitoba, first in Thompson, and then as a Cabinet Minister in the Manitoba provincial government of Edward Schreyer. In 1971 he resigned his cabinet post in protest of the government’s funding of induced abortion.  He credits “a certain doctor” for alerting him, while in cabinet, to irregularities in the use of provincial money for abortion services, and in this way his advocacy for the pre-born had begun.   


The Trial for Life of 1983 actually began its course through the courts in 1978, and then proceeded after a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 1981, when it was ruled that he did indeed have the necessary standing to bring forward a case on behalf of the unborn.  Mr. Borowski and his lawyer, Morris Shumiatcher, objected to the abortion provisions enacted into the Criminal Code in 1969 on the grounds that they infringed on the article of the Bill of Rights which stated in part that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” 


Justice Willliam Matheson ultimately dismissed the case.  Although not ruling in Borowski’s favour, Judge Matheson did acknowledge the wealth of scientific information about the fetus presented at the trial.  The advances in science would one day need to be incorporated into legal definitions, he predicted.  This decision put Mr. Borowski back on the road to the Supreme Court.   When his case was finally heard, unfortunately it was too late, because by then, 1989, the existing laws were declared to be unconstitutional, and consequently the Borowski case declared as “moot.”


In the 21st century world of judicial activism and the “reading in” of rights beyond what the framers of the Charter intended, Judge Matheson’s ruling sounds almost foreign and timid when he stated that “it is the prerogative of Parliament, and not the courts, to enact whatever legislation may be considered appropriate to extend to the unborn…”


Equally curious by today’s standards is the action of provincial governments on the topic of abortion.  By his actions in the early 1970s, Mr. Borowski made possible a vote in the Manitoba Legislature which resulted in the loss by one vote on the question of de-funding abortion.  That second guessing of the role of government in morality is contrasted by the vote in 2008 by the Quebec Assembly in its decision to vote unanimously against Bill C-484, the Unborn Victim’s of Crime Legislation.  Although a provincial vote on a federal bill, and therefore non-binding, the two examples reveal the actions of government when intentions are firm.   


Setbacks notwithstanding, Joe Borowski provided an incredible witness to the real “little guy”, the person in the womb, and for that millions of people in Canada and around the world are forever grateful.  Speaking at the time of the trial, Mr. Borowski’s lawyer, Dr. Morris Shumiatcher, is quoted from media publications as saying this about his client:  “Joe Borowski has opened the doors for the unborn child and ultimately it will be decided in favour of the unborn child.”


The commemoration of Joe Borowski on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Trial for Life concludes with a luncheon at Sacred Heart Ukrainian Catholic Church.  Ted Byfield, a revered journalist and publisher has been confirmed as the guest speaker for the luncheon.  Mr. Byfield is currently the general editor of a twelve volume Christian history series, The Christians:  Their First Two Thousand years. (www.christianhistoryproject.com)  In preparation for this event to honour  Mr. Borowski’s memory, he commented that “I also know how vital are those courageous people over the centuries who resisted the “spirit of the age” because it ran so plainly counter to the teachings of Our Lord. We honor them in history, not because they won at the time (because often they didn’t) but because we can see clearly in retrospect that they were right and everybody else was wrong.” 


Ted Byfield founded Alberta Report, a weekly newsmagazine that for thirty years covered the social, political, judicial and cultural life of that province, based on the premise that Christianity is true. He published a twelve-volume history of Alberta and an atlas of the province. Prior to this, he served on Canadian daily newspapers for seventeen years, including 10 years with the Free Press in Winnipeg.  He was a founder and teacher for ten years in the St. John’s Schools, a movement in the Christian education of boys.


For more information about “Joe Borowski Stories: A Commemoration of Joe Borowski on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Trial for Life, Regina 1983”, please contact:  Fr. Jeffrey Stephaniuk Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Church, Box 3520 Melfort, Saskatchewan S0E 1A0 306-752-3182 (jdstephaniuk@gmail.com).   Assistance with this event is being provided by local councils of the Knights of Columbus.




Joe Borowski, photo courtesy The Interim



Ted Byfield, General Editor, “The Christians:  Their First Two Thousand Years”

Guest Speaker for “Joe Borowski Stories” Luncheon, Saturday, September 6, 2008

Photo:  www.christianhistoryproject.com




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