March for Life May 13th 2010

Here are The Interim’s top 10 Canadian stories of 2010. Some of them bring us hope in our battle for Life and Family issues, while others remind us there is still a lot of work to be done.

10. Formation of Parliamentary Caucus. On an April 21 press conference a group of MPs announced the creation of the non-partisan Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care to promote “awareness of glaring deficiencies in Canada’s palliative and compassionate care network, fostering constructive dialogue and substantive research on an array of related subjects and implementing policies to address this critical deficiency in the nation’s approach to long-term health.” The PCPCC is co-chaired by Harold Albrecht (Conservative, Kitchener-Conestoga), Michelle Simson (Liberal, Scarborough-Southwest), and Joe Comartin (NDP, Windsor-Tecumseh). The committee will research four central issues — palliative care, suicide prevention, elder abuse, and disability issues – and expect to submit its report in early 2011.

9. D&P apologizes to CLC, shifts gears. After reported in 2009 that the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace supported groups that promoted abortion, D&P issued a statement condemning LSN and Campaign Life Coalition. After high-level meetings (and the threat of legal action by CLC), D&P apologized to CLC in July for misrepresenting the pro-life group’s activities by saying it was a “single-issue militant” advocacy group and implying that it worked with people who employed violent means. More importantly, the on-going controversy of D&P’s financial support of pro-abortion groups in the developing world result in a November announcement that it has developed “an exit strategy” to end “controversial” partnerships. A report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Development and Peace by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops would tighten funding protocols and creating a policy of contacting partners’ local bishops. CLC welcomed the report and hoped that it would be implemented to ensure the Catholic organization did not fund causes that go against the church’s moral teaching.

8. Latimer paroled. In 2007, after serving seven years of a minimum ten-year sentence, child murderer Robert Latimer won day parole. In 2009, he was denied full parole because the parole board deemed him lacking in sufficient remorse, but in November he won his appeal of that decision. Over the years, disability and anti-euthanasia groups were concerned about the message that Latimer’s lax treatment and sympathetic press sent to the public about the value of people with disabilities.

7. Ontario pushes homosexual educational agenda. Despite withdrawing a radical sex education curriculum in April after pressure from parents and religious groups, the Ontario government continued to push its Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy which would weave a pro-homosexual ideology throughout the kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum and throughout the entire school environment. Implementation of the strategy would normalize homosexuality, promote homosexual activism within the schools and enable human rights challenges against boards, schools and individuals deemed insufficiently gay friendly. Pro-family groups warn that the EIE Strategy threatens the right of parents to direct the moral values of their own children.

6. Bathroom bill proceeds in House. C-389, Bill Siksay’s private member’s bill to enshrine “gender identity” and “gender expression” in Canada’s human rights law and hate crime legislation, passed second reading. The Bloc Quebecois and NDP and all but a handful of Liberals support special legal protection for transsexual and transgender people, while all but five Conservatives were joined by three Liberals in opposing the proposed law. Unless an election is called in the meantime, the bill will probably have third reading in late February or early March.

Rod Bruinooge

5. Coercive abortion bill defeated. Rod Bruinooge introduced C-510, a private member’s bill that would have added coercing a woman to have an abortion to the Criminal Code. Opponents claimed it was unnecessary and that it was the thin edge of the wedge to establishing fetal rights. The bill was voted down 97-178  in December, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper joining opposition to the bill saying he did not want to re-open the abortion issue. Bruinooge said it was not an abortion bill, but rather a much-needed law intended to protect vulnerable women who faced violence from partners and others who did not want them to carry the child to term.

4. Students stand firm against university censors. Police arrested pro-life students at the University of Calgary and Carleton University for taking part in Genocide Awareness Project demonstrations after being denied clearance by administration officials to exercise their freedom of expression on campus. Charges were dropped against Calgary’s Campus Pro Life students, but the case against Carleton LifeLine members continues. Despite the heavy-handed tactics of school administrators, pro-life student activists refuse to buckle to censorship, academic pressure and police involvement.

March for Life May 13th 2010

3. Largest National March for Life ever. The National March for Life in May attracted at least 12,500 participants in Ottawa, as provincial marches across the country continued to grow. For the first time, a separate youth banquet was held (apart from the Rose Dinner) and 800 youth attended that event.

2. Euthanasia bill overwhelmingly defeated. On April 21, Bill C-384 was defeated 228-59 when the House of Commons voted against Francine Lalonde’s (BQ, La Pointe-de-l’Ile) private member’s bill An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity). Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said that following the defeat of Lalonde’s bill, Canada should move to help vulnerable citizens.

1. Maternal health initiative excludes abortion. After Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Ottawa would push a maternal health initiative at the G8, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff called for the government to ensure that abortion and contraception be included in the multi-billion dollar effort. The government caved on contraception but stood firm against abortion even though the opposition parties and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that maternal health included abortion services. Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae introduced a motion calling for the “full gamut of reproductive health services” to be included in the maternal health initiative, but on March 23, the House of Commons voted against the motion 144-138. Harper came out of the Muskoka conference of the G8 with a plan and funding commitments to improve maternal health in the developing world — with abortion explicitly excluded in the final communique.