When Ralph Nader attended a press conference at Queen’s Park in Toronto to an overflow media crowd a few years ago, I asked him: “What’s your stand on pro-life issues?” He dismissed me with a wave of his arm. It was obvious he wasn’t going to wade into that contentious issue. It’s the same situation at the Park today.
As an associate member of the Queen’s Park Press Gallery, with press privileges, I attend press conferences, hobnob with prominent politicians, attend social events and drop off copies of The Interim at the Pink Palace for politicians and journalists alike. Many would rather die a horrible death than admit they read it. The Interim has been running my column, which has been satirical and contentious for over 17 years, and I haven’t been sued yet. It’s hard to sue a writer whose only defence is: “Lighten up, guys!”
An embarrassing situation I experienced recently was when my wife pressed the wrong key on her computer and inserted into the middle of one of my more serious columns her recipe for Mediterranean Swiss Chard. It was published word for word. One of the editors thought I wanted to put it in. When I told my wife what had happened she laughed so hard, she cried. She had never laughed so hard before at any of my other columns!
On another occasion, the whole press gallery assembled to try to expel me for putting a pro-life bookmark in journalists’ open mailboxes about Samuel, a baby who survived a life-saving operation in his mother’s womb at 22 weeks’ gestation. I’ve never seen a better visual argument against abortion than that bookmark, based on a famous Newsweek article a few years ago. And they couldn’t see it. Good grief.
To be fair, on a number of other occasions at Queen’s Park, when my neck has been in the noose and my death notice has been about to be posted, a number of senior, well-regarded and connected (and not known to be pro-life) journalists have come unsolicited to my aid, because they believe in freedom of the press. The bookmark caper was one of those occasions and so, I was allowed to rain on the pro-abortion, anti-family parade for another day.
A few years ago, a prominent out-of-town abortionist was in Toronto giving an interview to the press. I was surprised I hadn’t known previously about it, as I usually get tipped off about an occasion like that. It turned out to be that it wasn’t held at Queen’s Park. Instead, it was held at a place where I do not have privileges. However, as a courtesy, I was allowed in and permitted to ask questions. The abortionist was getting a lot of favourable, sweetheart questions from a large contingent of the media. He got country-wide television news coverage about his house being regularly picketed by pro-lifers. I was able to cut in and ask: “Doctor, would they be picketing your house if you were taking out appendixes?”
The TV cameras wheeled around in the crowded gallery and turned on me as I pursued my questioning. “Well, would they??” He agreed they wouldn’t and offered no further coherent response. The people conducting the interview decided he was falling apart, pulled the plug on his microphone and ended the press conference abruptly.
The next day, I learned from the caretaker of our church that I had been on the CBC. He felt that I had routed the abortionist. However, later in the week at Queen’s Park, a cameraman at another national TV operation called out to me: “Hey, Frank! We bleeped out your contribution at that press conference you were at.” You can’t win ’em all.
I’ve never wanted to be known as an armchair general, so I have picketed abortion sites all the way from Newfoundland to British Columbia and numerous points in between. I’ve had the distinction of shaking hands with two of the most prominent abortionists in Canada and the U.S. – Bernard Nathanson, a co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League turned pro-lifer, and Henry Morgentaler, who of course has a string of abortion mills across Canada. I met Morgentaler in a small restaurant in Toronto when I was having lunch with Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life Coalition. Hughes informed the Morgentaler: “Henry, I have prayed for you every day for the past 22 years.”
A short time after that incident, Morgentaler announced that he was not in favour of late-term abortions and said: “It’s a baby then.”
I also pray more frequently now that Morgentaler will abandon the abortion business and join Nathanson in the pro-life camp. Hey, anything’s possible.