Aidan Reid is not your typical Ottawa lobbyist. The 29-year-old first became interested in political activism as a teenager, after attending a presentation on abortion. “I was shocked to discover how common this gruesome practice is in Canada,” Reid told The Interim. “So I began participating in Life Chains, which showed me there was a large number of people interested in life issues – including people from many different faith communities.”

From this initial interest, Reid became more active within the right-to-life and pro-family movement and, for the past three-and-a-half years, has worked with Campaign Life Coalition. He has spent the past 18 months as director of public affairs at its Ottawa office, where he oversees four other CLC employees. “CLC’s Ottawa office is actually two offices,” Reid says, “the local CLC Ottawa office and the National Public Affairs Office.”

He explains the difference: “The Ottawa office serves as a conduit for local pro-life activism and organization. We have monthly meetings for local activists. We rely heavily upon our local activists to volunteer at our different functions. They are also generous with their donations to the movement. Our main event is the National March for Life, which takes place in May of each year.”

CLC’s public affairs office is the satellite lobby office of the national organization. “It serves as the means by which we have a contact to all the parliamentarians,” Reid says. “As lobbyists, we contact members of Parliament and senators to discuss various bills pertaining to life and family issues.”

It’s not easy work. “Being a pro-life lobbyist is challenging in our current social and political climate that is very hostile to the family,” Reid adds. “It often feels like we’re the only ones carrying that torch. But we’re very hopeful for the future, because we see more young people taking up the pro-life cause and leading the way into the future.”

His most unforgettable experience as a pro-life lobbyist involved U.S. President George W. Bush. “I was in the Parliament building the day he was visiting,” Reid recalls, “and managed to shake his hand. I thanked him for being pro-life.” In contrast, his worst experience involved a MP reportedly lying to him. “While lobbying on the stem cell bill, one Catholic MP told me that he would vote against the bill. Despite his assurances, he voted for it. That left a bad taste in my mouth as a Catholic, because most MPs have the courage to tell the truth and back up their positions.”

Despite some hard-fought battles that did not go the way of pro-life and pro-family voters, Reid nevertheless remains encouraged by what he sees happening in the House of Commons.  “It seems that our younger MPs are more idealistic and generally more pro-life than older generations,” Reid shares. “Our generation has lived their whole lives in the culture of death. I think the pendulum is swinging back and the younger MPs are fashioning their own distinctive influence on this country.”

Reid is also encouraged by the quality of most pro-life and pro-family politicians in Ottawa, as he lists “Jason Kenney, Tom Wappel, Paul Szabo, Maurice Vellacott, Paul Steckle, Stockwell Day, Gary Breitkreuz, Dan McTeague, Anne Cools – to name just a few.” Reid adds: “And there are plenty of others who quietly go about their business, doing their best to craft and support pro-life legislation. I am especially encouraged by the new crop of MPs elected for this upcoming Parliament, many of whom were elected with CLC’s support.”

Having an Ottawa office to lobby politicians is important to the right-to-life and pro-family cause. “MPs come to Ottawa to represent their constituents,” Reid explains, “but they find themselves pressured by their parties to toe the party line once they get here. Then they go back home and tell the folks in their ridings what they want local voters to hear.”

But pro-lifers can be heard: “When pro-life voters visit their MPs at home, and CLC lobbies politicians in Ottawa, MPs hear a unified message in support of the culture of life. They know we will hold them accountable, since our Ottawa office regularly co-ordinates its efforts with local activists across the country. Our lobbying efforts insure that MPs cannot say one thing in Ottawa and another at home.”