Editor’s Note: Campaign Life Coalition national president Jeff Gunnarson issued a statement Feb. 5 on a march for life taking place in Toronto on the same day as the National March for Life clarifying that the Toronto event is not related to nor affiliated with the annual gathering of pro-lifers in Ottawa.

Last week, you may have received an email announcing a march for life event scheduled to take place in Toronto on the same day as CLC’s annual National March for Life in Ottawa on May 9.

Please note that while the proposed march for life in Toronto is an anti-abortion march, Campaign Life Coalition is not affiliated with this new initiative.

The announcement states, “the pro-life movement is coming together to finally bring the March for Life to Canada’s largest city: Toronto!” However, CLC, Canada’s largest national pro-life organization and the main organizer of the Ottawa March for Life, first learned of the Toronto event only on the eve of the announcement.

We received no prior notice that this event was being considered and CLC was not invited to provide any input into the planning and scheduling of the Toronto event.

The Toronto event announcement also states that “there has been an increasing call” for a Toronto march. CLC’s response to that claim is that, in all the years it has organized Canada’s premier pro-life event in Ottawa, we have rarely heard calls for a Toronto march, and certainly not for one that would take place at the same time as the National March only 4 hours from Toronto.

The largest number of attendees to the annual National March come from the Toronto region.

While we are not opposed to having a march for life in Toronto, CLC is disappointed that the organizers planned their march to take place at the same time as the National March. We have reached out to the organizers of the Toronto March–the Association for Reformed Political Action: ARPA/We Need a Law, CANADIAN Centre for Bioethical Reform: CCBR, and Toronto Right to Life–urging them to change their date, preferably to one in the Fall, but they declined.

Over the years we have worked with our CLC leaders and other groups in organizing and promoting regional marches in various provincial capitals so that Canadians from coast to coast can march in solidarity with the National March in Ottawa.

Our strategy also included deliberately not organizing marches anywhere else in Ontario or Quebec in order to maximize the attendance in front of Parliament where all major abortion legislation is enacted, since abortion is a federal issue. Many pro-life MPs usually interrupt their busy parliamentary duties to come out to speak to, and encourage, March attendees and to also be encouraged by the huge gathering of pro-lifers.

As organizers of the March, we find this Toronto initiative very unfortunate. We make large financial commitments long before the march date to cover the costs associated with the march itself and the many other events that take place before and after the march.

The several religious services, the Candlelight vigil, The Rose Dinner, the Youth Dinner and the Youth Conference the day after the march are all major events requiring extensive long-term planning. That planning usually begins almost right after the previous march has ended.

Two competing events in the same region will split pro-life attendance. With potentially a much smaller crowd of pro-life demonstrators on Parliament Hill, it could also lessen the impact on MPs who come out to address the crowd, and on all parliamentarians inside the House of Commons.

The National March For Life has been an effective catalyst for other pro-life organizations to promote their work, speak at our events and host their own events. The National March For Life is about standing together as one movement against abortion. The 2019 March is especially significant, not only because it precedes a federal election, but because it marks 50 years since the floodgates to abortion were opened in Parliament through the 1969 omnibus bill passed under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

With the stakes at an all-time high, we need as many pro-life Canadians as possible to come to Ottawa on May 9th. We must show our federal law makers that there is strong and growing support for pro-life legislation.

This turn of events saddens us greatly, but we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that this year’s National March for Life on May 9 will be one to remember!