Campagne Quebec Vie president Luc Gagnon says the annual National Pro-life Conference his organization is hosting in Montreal Nov. 17-19 presents an excellent opportunity for English and French Canada to reflect on shared values, as the two cultures look into the future at the cultural, political and spiritual battles ahead.
Noting that the last pro-life conference held in Montreal was a decade ago – and even then, the Human Life International conference focused on American, rather than Canadian or Quebec issues – Gagnon said it is long overdue that the “two solitudes” begin speaking with one another as the country faces an uncertain future.
Gagnon said scheduled speakers come from all fields, including academia, religion, politics, media, medicine and law. But more important, they are evenly divided between French and English speakers. To ensure everyone benefits from all the speakers, organizers have arranged for a system of simultaneous translation. Devices will be easy to use and will facilitate a “true national discussion.”
Gagnon said pro-life Canadians, regardless of whether they speak French or English, share common values, but still never talk to one another. He said Quebec pro-lifers often seem alone, because unlike English Canadians who have the example of the American pro-life movement, French Canadians are isolated.
He also said it is important for English Canadians to understand the influence of Quebec on Canada’s moral climate. He noted that were it not for Quebec MPs who overwhelmingly voted for same-sex “marriage,” the bill legalizing such “marriages” would not have passed in the House of Commons.
Speakers will address a panoply of issues that affect life and family. An ecumenical panel featuring Archbishop Adam Exner, archbishop emeritus of Vancouver, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, pastor Jeffrey Laurin of Montreal and Jean Migneault, deputy supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, will provide religious perspectives on life and family.
Author and artist Michael O’Brien is part of a panel on “Today’s Cultural Battle.” Two biotechnology experts will explore how to respect the sanctity of human life in an age of new reproductive technologies. An oncologist, physician and historian will examine euthanasia.
A panel of experts including Angelina Steenstra, co-founder of the Canadian Silent No More Awareness Campaign, will look at the impact of abortion on women’s health. MPs Stockwell Day and Dan McTeague, Parti Quebecois leadership contender Ghislain Lebel and Democratie chretienne du Quebec leader Gilles Noel will provide a political perspective on protecting life and family.
The conference, sponsored by Campaign Life Coalition and Life Canada will be held at the historic Oratory of St. Joseph, Montreal and will be bookended by both Catholic Masses and ecumenical prayer services.
The full conference fee is $125 for adults and $75 for students and youth. To attend on Friday or Saturday only is $60 or $40 for students and youth. Meals and accommodations are separate. The Oratory is conveniently located on the city’s subway line.
To register by phone call, the toll-free number is 1-800-730-5358.