From December 7 to 10, 1989, Campaign Life Coalition held its annual strategy conference at Ste. Anne de Beaupre, just east of Quebec City. Just over 90 people were in attendance from all but two Canadian provinces, from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. Quebec’s two dozen delegates were a first for this new affiliate, which bodes well for the pro-life battle in the future.

Much discussion focused on the fight for pro-life legislation, but many other topics were dealt with as well. Here are a few highlights: – Jim Hughes’ assessment of the past year’s activity, with such disappointments as the slipping away of pro-life MPs apparently prepared to vote for Bill C-43 and the clear recognition that representatives of the law, including the Supreme Court, are against us, but many plusses, as well, including the growing strength of Campaign Life in Quebec, and the affiliation of Nova Scotian and Manitoban pro-life groups with Campaign Life Coalition; – Steve Jalsevac’s survey of the spread of CLC across the country, owing to the passion for truth of many people and their willingness to commit themselves to a cause requiring a great deal of effort and sacrifice; – former MP Ralph Stewart’s fascinating analysis of the procedures which Bill C-43 is going through and of the conflict between ambition and conscience which  every Member of Parliament faces; – Clare Dodds’ discussion of Operation Rescue, with the statement that in ten Rescues she has seen Rescuers knocked unconscious but never seen one retaliate; – Anne Marie Tomlin’s frank admission that only a year ago she had thought of Rescuers as fanatics going up and down the street shouting, until Pastor Steve Hill came to Halifax and gave them a new understanding of what was involved. The experience of picketing Morgentaler, when he came to Halifax also gave them a realization of what was involved. “Once you have felt the moral obligation to condemn this horror, you have a different perspective,” she said. – Gilles Grondin’s comment, following Winifride Prestwich’s description of the “advances” in reproductive technology, that “we are now capable of producing monsters.”

Quebec activity

Many of the highlights were in fact produced by the Quebec delegation, and since the conference was in their province it seems fair to point some of these out. Gilles Grondin, termed an extreme right-wing fanatic by a newspaper when he challenged the pro-abortion views of Jacques Parizeau, described in his calm and lucid way, the process of organization which he is carrying out in his province. He is convinced that, with proper organization and patience, it is possible to turn Quebec sentiment concerning abortion completely around.

Reggie Chartrand, once termed an “inarticulate pugilist” by a newspaper, described in his humorous and vigorous way the kind treatment Morgentaler has received in Quebec over the years, and the establishment of “clinics” which young women go into healthy and come out sick.

Jacques Frenette discussed a meeting in Sherbrooke in which Reggie took a prominent part. After a speaker had taken a neutral position on abortion, Campaign Life Coalition representatives tried to convince a prominent bishop in the audience that he ought to stand up and object. His retort was, “You don’t understand. These poor women – you can’t criminalize them.” Reggie, the boxer, then tried to teach the bishop some moral theology. Failing in his efforts, he asked in exasperation, “Whom are the bishops following, if they do not follow God and the Pope?”

A listener then commented that we now have Physicians for Life, Lawyers for Life and Business for Life, so that perhaps it is time for Bishops for Life. At this the Manitoba delegation protested that their bishops are strongly supportive of their efforts, and that not all bishops ought to be tarred with the same brush.

In chilling terms, Margo Cafferty described what has gone wrong with public education in Quebec – which used to be Catholic education –specifically the spread of false concepts of sexuality and the family. Sex education takes place in mixed classes, with open displays of contraceptives, and emphasis on “responsible sex” – meaning condoms – and acceptance of abortion for contraceptive failure. Like many others at the conference, she stressed that in the long run it is education which will count, and that proper education must begin in the early grades.

The conference concluded on notes of optimism by Jim Hughes and Gilles Grondin, with special emphasis on the new initiatives being taken from coast to coast, the extraordinary sense of dedication by pro-life supporters, and the new sense of solidarity which exists in Campaign Life Coalition members. So ended an extremely successful conference.