It is becoming a truism that youth are the future of the pro-life movement. At this year’s March for Life in Ottawa, speaker after speaker noted the impressive presence of the youth and their importance to the movement. Of the estimated 3,500 attendees, more than half were high school- and university-aged young people.

“I was ecstatic to see the turnout of youth,” said Gillian Long, executive director of Campaign Life Coalition Youth. “We had youth from across Canada, literally. There were representatives from UBC’s Lifeline club and Memorial University of Newfoundland’s MUN for Life. My goal next year is to have at least one youth representative from every province. We were close this year, but we were missing a few.”

This year’s youth conference was held May 13 at St. Joseph’s parish in Ottawa. The one-day event, run by CLCY, featured a wide-range of speakers.

Hilary White, director of research for CLC, is the resident expert on embryonic stem cell research. She drew on her long experience speaking to young people on abortion to clarify some of the issues surrounding embryonic stem cell research and Bill C-13, which was still being debated in the House of Commons as of this writing.

“It’s hard to cram it all into an hour,” said White. “I could talk to them all day on this issue. The scope is so huge. People ask me why I get into things like IVF. I have to, to explain to them where these embryos are coming from. They’re not just growing on embryo trees. One immoral act is leading to another here.”

The Ottawa-based Chastity Challenge Team addressed the group in the afternoon. Using skits and personal stories, this group of young people brought home to the young people the importance of chastity. They noted the improved relationships one has when one is chaste, while pointing out the pain and suffering that occur in an extramarital sexual relationship. They pointed out the physical dangers one risks in such a situation, in the form of sexually transmitted diseases and premarital pregnancy. Using humour to make their point, the team was well received by all present.

MP Rob Anders (CA, Calgary West) rounded out the day by showing the youth how they could become involved politically, and made it clear to them how important their role could be. He used diagrams to show the youth how few people in his riding actually elected him, laying out the process very clearly and concisely.

MP Tom Wappel (Lib, Scarborough Southwest) addressed a second group of young people the day after the March. He encouraged youth to get involved now in the political process by taking out a membership in a political party, which they can do in some of the parties as young as age 14. By doing so, a young person might actually be able to elect the next leader of the party, he said. In the Liberal Party, he noted, a certain number of delegates to annual conventions must be youths aged 14-25.

The most moving part of the presentation was Mr. Wappel’s assertion that one has to make sacrifices for one’s moral convictions. He has been told time and again that if he would just bend on the abortion issue, he would surely get a cabinet post. Wappel himself believes this is true, and it is a job he both wants and feels he would be successful at, but he is not willing to compromise his convictions for it. This is a daily struggle for most pro-lifers, so it was encouraging to hear from a public figure who is experiencing the same challenges.

Both Anders and Wappel encouraged the youth to think about running for office themselves if they didn’t see a pro-life candidate in their riding. As both men were first elected when they were relatively young, they could be seen to have spoken genuinely by having put their money where their mouths were.