Interim columnist becomes new leader, sees challenges ahead

Luc Gagnon brings a wide-ranging background to his role as the new president of Campagne Quebec Vie.

In addition to extensive involvement in pro-life work for a number of years (which included the founding of a pro-life medical student organization at Laval University), Gagnon has at various times studied medicine, philosophy, literature and at seminaries in Montreal and Florence, Italy, on his way to the top job with la belle province’s premier pro-life organization. As president, he takes over from 13-year veteran Gilles Grondin, who will remain active as president emeritus and spokesperson for Campagne Quebec Vie.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Gagnon, who added that grassroots resistance to the “culture of death” unfortunately seems to be less strong in Quebec than in other provinces. “The situation is difficult. There is now a bill that would establish civil unions for homosexuals. That will not help the family situation … Resistance is not very strong but our mission is to try to strengthen it.”

Gagnon, who officially became president on March 19 after serving as interim president since January, identified several priorities for his upcoming term, including improving Campagne Quebec Vie’s financial situation.

“Another important thing is the lobbying of MPs and MNA’s … (and) to intensify our relations with MPs from Quebec so they may become more involved in the pro-life cause and the pro-life caucus,” he said. “We already have good relations with some of them.”

A goal of Gagnon’s is to establish ‘cells’ of pro-life supporters in larger cities outside Montreal, such as Quebec City, Trois Rivieres, Sherbrooke and Chicoutimi. “We would like to create active groups in those cities and organize meetings, lectures and conferences. One thing we’d like to do is hold a conference next September for Campagne Quebec Vie … There are people who want to participate in a movement defending life and a decent society. It’s the role of Campagne Quebec Vie to reach those people, motivate them and involve them.”

Closer relationships with Quebec’s religious leaders is also on the agenda. Gagnon noted that he recently wrote a letter to Bishop Jacques Berthelet, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Through my experience in seminary, I have a good knowledge of the church and the clergy. I think I will have some success.”

Finally, Gagnon identified cultivating the involvement of young people as another key ingredient of Campagne Quebec Vie’s future effectiveness. He noted that an important step in that direction is being taken right away, with the addition of two young people to the organization’s board of directors.

Gagnon said all these steps revolve around Campagne Quebec Vie’s two-pronged approach to the pro-life struggle – informing and lobbying politicians, and changing the culture and public sentiments.