Two years after Campaign Life Coalition Youth launched the Defund Abortion campaign in Ontario that included two rallies at Queen’s Park, two sets of demonstrations at the riding offices, petitions, pamphleting, and a province-wide poll, CLC began rolling out the initiative across the country in September and October.
On Sept. 28, 40 people attended the rally organized by CLC Newfoundland and Labrador at the House of Assembly in St. John’s.
CLC Newfoundland’s Margaret Hynes said the goal was to educate both Members of the Legislative Assembly and the public about abortion, specifically that it is not medically necessary and need not be covered by the province’s taxpayer-funded health care system. Hynes said abortion is a drain on the system and that the estimated $1 million Newfoundlanders spend on elective abortions could be better spent on paying for additional medical professionals. “There is a real opportunity cost in diverting $1 million in tax dollars towards elective abortion,” she told the crowd, saying that the million dollars spent on abortion could cover the cost of five new family doctors, 14 nurses or therapy for 13 autistic children were the procedure delisted from the Medical Care Plan. “That would be real healthcare, not politically-motivated spending,” said Hynes.
The event gathered significant media attention as the CBC and The Telegram reported on the demonstration. Hynes said the coverage was fair and was excited that the message would get to a wider audience. “Due to the publicity, many more Newfoundlanders now know that our government forces us to pay $1-million dollars per year on abortion, and that this money could instead be put to use where our healthcare system is cash-starved.”
CLC national president Jim Hughes, who was in Newfoundland for their provincial conference, told The Interim that the crowd was very enthusiastic and that those who passed by were educated by the demonstration. “People were shocked to find out their hard-earned tax dollars are being used to pay for abortions,” Hughes reported.
On Oct. 3, the campaign kicked off in Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba.
In Halifax, 60 taxpayers protested the waste of abortion spending. Speaking from the steps of the legislative building, CLC Nova Scotia president Ellen Chesel insisted MLAs cease spending an estimated $2 million of Nova Scotians’ tax dollars to pay for abortion. She said that many areas of the health care system were neglected and called for the money to be reallocated. She shared a story of someone she knew who couldn’t get the treatment she need. “I have a friend whose family had to move because our province wouldn’t pay for her sister’s life-saving medicine,” Chesel explained. “She has a rare disease known as Omithine Transcarbamylase Deficiency which causes a toxic breakdown of the body’s use of protein.” The family had to move to another province that covered the necessary drug treatment. “I’m sure there are many, many more procedures that our province does not cover. And yet they find the funds to pay for abortions costing us taxpayers $1000 for the killing of an innocent child.”
Chesel also conducted a pair of radio interviews explaining the Defund Abortion effort.
In Edmonton, 200 people gathered at the provincial legislature. They heard from numerous speakers including new CLC Alberta executive director Sharon-Rose Milan, CLC Youth coordinator and national defund chairman Alissa Golob, Rosie Rosenkey from the Wilberforce Project, Denise Mountenay from Canada Silent No More, and Lauren Kyriuk from the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.
Milan reported, “the crowd was exuberant and responded to our speeches with spontaneous ‘defund abortion’ chants.” CLC Alberta estimate the cost of abortion in the province to be $13 million. Milan said taxpayers of all ages, “don’t agree with $13-million of their tax dollars being funneled to pay for a medically unnecessary procedure that is morally reprehensible.”
Milan told the audience that for $13 million, Alberta could hire 57 family doctors or 200 nurses in communities facing a dire shortage, or purchase nine critically needed MRI machines every year.
CLC Alberta noted in a press release that the Alberta government forces patients “who suffer with genuine medical conditions to languish on waiting lists” because tax money is diverted to fund abortions.
There was a small counter-demonstration and Milan said it was “ironic” that the speakers were mostly young women while the pro-abortion protesters were all men.
The local media, including City TV, covered the Defund Abortion rally.
In Winnipeg, 120 Manitobans gathered at the legislature to hear Scott Hayward, 23, the rally leader, although he was drowned out by a much larger crowd organized by three large labour unions: the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Manitoba Federation of Labour, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada. Golob told The Interim it was the “same rent a mob that unions pay to have counter-protest.” They used bullhorns and pots and pans to drown out the pro-life speakers and shouted their support for “free abortion on demand.”
Hayward said, “if you as an individual want to get an abortion, as a hard-earning taxpayer here in Manitoba, we shouldn’t have to be forced to pay for that decision with our hard-earned tax dollars — especially for a procedure that is medically unnecessary.”
Hayward was repeatedly interrupted by the union-backed abortion supporters, who at one point came up to his podium and made sexual taunts against him. The clash of the two sides was widely reported in both daily papers and the local affiliates of CTV and CBC.
CLC Manitoba said it plans a follow-up rally in the spring.
In Ontario, CLC worked with local volunteers to organize Defund Abortion mini rallies outside 57 MPP constituency offices.
Jan Robinson has been involved with pro-life for eight years and she organized the mini rally outside the office of Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade & Employment. She told The Interim, “I don’t want my tax dollars going to fund abortion.” She and Maria Da Silva collected signatures for a petition demanding the defunding of abortion and she said many pedestrians were shocked to find out that the health care system pays for all abortions for all nine months regardless of the reason for obtaining the abortion. Da Silva said it was her “civic duty” to take part in the demonstration because “it is very hard to sit at home and do nothing when my taxes are going to fund the death of unborn children.”
While an Interim reporter was at the constituency office, a member of Hoskins’ office staff came out twice to offer water or coffee and the use of their washrooms. Not all pro-life taxpayers were met so cordially.
Interim circulation manager Dan Di Rocco was part of a contingent of 35, including high school students at the Markham offices of Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports. When he and CLC’s Yoli Singson arrived, blinds were closed and doors were locked despite a sign advertising office hours of 9 am to 5 pm. Di Rocco and Singson talked to the staff through the closed door and were unable to present a statement against taxpayer funding abortion to them to be given to the MPP.
The group held signs against taxpayer funding of abortion and assembled on the sidewalk about 50 feet from the office.
The property manager approached Di Rocco and claimed there were complaints about their presence and that they had to leave the premises, which she said was private property. Di Rocco noted that they were on the sidewalk and that they had a democratic right to access the constituency office.
Several minutes later two police cars arrived. Di Rocco told The Interim the police acted “friendly and professionally.” They requested the group stay on the sidewalk and left after five minutes, with one officer giving a thumbs-up sign when he drove away.
Di Rocco said he was, “disappointed that the minister would lock the door of his constituency office, expressing trepidation to meet his own constituents.” Di Rocco called closing the office a “slap in the face of citizens seeking to meet with their elected representative.”
In Etobicoke Centre, Defund Abortion protesters were also met with a closed constituency office with a note on Donna Cansfield’s door explaining the MPP and her staff were at a community event. Yet CLC Toronto chairman Jeff Gunnarson told The Interim that the staff of Premier Kathleen Wynne was friendly and politely listened and accepted the statement he read explaining why they were there.
The Defund Abortion campaign will launch in other provinces next Spring and CLC provincial wings across the country vow to continue educating the public on how their tax dollars are being misused and maintaining pressure on elected officials to delist abortion services from provincial health plans.