Uniting with the estimated 22,000 pro-life advocates who marched in Campaign Life Coalition’s Ottawa March for Life on May 12 – to mark May 14, 1969, the day Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government legalized abortion – pro-life Canadians held similar marches in provinces across the nation.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The March for Life “is truly a national event from sea to sea,” noted Patrick Hanlon, spokesperson for Pro-Life Newfoundland and Labrador, which is why the group opted to hold a march May 18, although its main annual pro-life demonstration, attended by hundreds, is traditionally on Good Friday.
Pro-Life NL took the opportunity to slam Liberal Premier Dwight Ball’s “hard-hitting” budget that has thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians up in arms and protesting regularly at St. John’s Confederation Building. The Liberal budget will push pregnant women in difficult circumstances to consider abortion, and it “needs to be scrapped. The vulnerable need caring and not killing,” stated NL Pro-Life’s press release.
“We also suggested that in order to save tax dollars, the government should regulate and defund abortion, especially at private for-profit facilities,” Hanlon told LifeSiteNews in an email.
Because of this message, the march, although few in numbers, received comprehensive and fair media coverage, observed Hanlon, and the traditional protestors stayed away, “as their opposition to us may be interpreted as support for the budget.”
About 100 people, led by a dozen members of the Knights of Columbus, marched twice around the legislature in Halifax on May 12, following a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral-Basilica, celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Mancini.
Since Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil won a Liberal majority in 2013, ending four years of NDP rule under Darrell Dexter, pro-life marchers have had an increasingly frosty reception at the province’s house of elected representatives, according to CLC Nova Scotia’s president Ellen Chesal. After the “silent walk all around” that edifice, “people standing outside the legislature were later told to get away and off the sidewalk,” she told LifeSiteNews in an email. Added Chesal: “Last year, and again this year, we were denied our right to free speech and banned from the steps of the Nova Scotia Legislature.”
Thirty-one people attended the May 11 March for Life Prayer Vigil in front of Halifax’s Victoria General Hospital the night before the march, noted Chesal.
About 400 people attended the May 19 March for Life in Fredericton, which focused on euthanasia and assisted suicide, reported Peter Ryan, former ED of New Brunswick Right to Life.
“There’s no way you can sugar-coat suicide and euthanasia,” Graydon Nicholas, former lieutenant governor, told the crowd. “It’s deliberate death. We need to stand up for life, for the culture of life, as opposed to the culture of death.”
Health Minister Victor Boudreau told the marchers that the federal Liberals’ legislation on euthanasia and assisted suicide was a “reasonable approach,” but that the province has to “wait and see what the legislation looks like once it is adopted, if it gets adopted.”
Boudreau promised that Premier Brian Gallant’s Liberal majority government will “make sure we have other options available,” such as good palliative care for the dying, according to Ryan.
Ryan observed that the minister didn’t answer Ryan’s questions as to where euthanasia would take place in the province, if that would “include nursing homes, hospices and Catholic institutions,” and how conscience rights for medical practitioners would be protected.
Conservative MLA Glenn Savoie called for a legislative debate on the issue, noting: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
Savoie was one of 10 Tory MLAs who attended the March, including: Jody Carr, Bruce Northrup, Sherry Wilson, Pam Lynch, Ted Flemming, Trevor Holder, Jeff Carr, Dorothy Shephard, and Bill Oliver.
Abortion activists who chanted slogans during part of the rally, Ryan reported, “quieted as two women offered testimonies of their struggles with unexpected pregnancy and the thought of abortion.”
The march, co-sponsored by NB RTL, the Knights of Columbus of New Brunswick, and the NB Council of the Catholic Women’s League, was preceded by a Mass celebrated by Saint John’s Bishop Robert Harris and concelebrated by ten priests.
Undaunted by unseasonably frigid temperatures, about 400 pro-lifers took part in the March for Life in Winnipeg, which began with a service at St. Mary’s Cathedral celebrated by Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, St. Boniface’s Archbishop Albert LeGatt, and Ukrainian Archeparch Lawrence Huculak.
The marchers congregated at the legislature, where Progressive Conservative Brian Pallister had been sworn in as premier scant days before, following his majority victory April 19 that saw the NDP voted out after nearly 17 years in power.
Following a prayer by Archbishop LeGatt, Gordon Giesbrecht told the crowd to “join together with a goal to stop the killing of unborn children whose lives are ended so tragically by abortion,” reported CLC Manitoba president Maria Slykerman, who noted that a handful of abortion activists tried to disrupt the gathering with noisy heckling, but “left after 10 minutes, shivering from the cold.”
The brisk march through downtown and back to the legislature concluded with a prayer by Pastor Bruce Martin of Calvary Temple, testimonies from two women Silent No More on the effects of their abortion, and a prayer by LeGatt.
About 2,000 people marched under sunny skies on May 12 from downtown Edmonton’s Sir Winston Churchill Square to the legislature — where Premier Rachel Notley’s majority NDP government has been in power almost a year to the day.
Although attendance at the Alberta event was lower than last year, according to organizer Gregory Amerongen, past president of March for Life Alberta, “this year we observed a significant number of children and youth who attended, not only from Edmonton, but entire busloads of children from all corners of the province.”
Edmonton’s Archbishop Richard Smith joined in the march, as did St. Paul’s Bishop Paul Terrio, Grouard-McLennan’s Archbishop Gérard Pettipas and Adjunct Judicial Vicar Fr. Dean Dowle, noted Amerongen, adding that “other bishops may have been there; I simply didn’t see them all.”
Speeches at the square and the legislature including addresses by John Carpay of the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, Knights of Columbus State Chaplain Fr. Jim Corrigan, The Wilberforce Project Director Cameron Wilson, the Back Porch executive director Jessica Bennett, and Denise Mountenay.
The pro-life march is “a clear challenge to an increasingly prevalent vision of reality that is decidedly unchristian,”Archbishop Smith said in his homily during Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica that morning. According to that vision of reality, “the sovereignty of Almighty God is replaced by the will of the autonomous self,” Smith said. “Our act of marching says: With this worldview, we beg to differ. God exists. He is Creator. Our lives matter to him. He has a purpose for each of us.” The march is a “message of defence and advocacy,” Archbishop Smith told the packed Basilica.
“We are defending the dignity of every human life,” said the archbishop. “We are standing against the message, implicit for example in the Supreme Court’s Carter decision, that there are some lives not worth living. We are upholding the principle necessary for all people – believers and non-believers alike – to live together in common society: the killing of the innocent is always morally wrong.”
Added Smith: “The Church’s proclamation of the Gospel of life, through word and witness, cannot be defeated, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, and will be brought by God’s grace and power to fulfillment in accord with God’s design.”
More than 2000 people assembled in Victoria, for B.C.’s annual March for Life outside the legislature. A pair of MLAs, Laurie Throness, of Chilliwack-Hope, and Marc Dalton of Maple Ridge-Mission, vowed to work for British Columbia laws that “protect the weak, protect persons with disabilities, protect medical professionals” who want no part of killing people, as well as to ensure that palliative care is not only improved “but available to every British Columbian that wants it.”
Nearly 800 who attended the pre-march mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral heard Victoria’s Bishop Gary Gordon, call to political action in order “to express the glory of the Father” by “caring for people in their vulnerability and weakness.”
Bishop Gordon’s message was that if political action failed to deter the Canadian government from passing doctor-assisted death into law with Bill C-14, Christians were presented “an amazing opportunity” to prevent ailing and vulnerable Canadians from choosing euthanasia or assisted suicide by showing each one them “the mercy of Jesus Christ.”
Emcee Pavel Reid of the Vancouver Archdiocese established the theme at the outset, leading the crowd in chanting “Caring not Killing,” at the MLAs within the building behind him. But there are MLAs who are for life, he added. “Support them when you vote, when you donate and when you volunteer.”
There was also a march for life in Saskatchewan, but information about the event was not available before The Interim went to press.
With files from Steve Weatherbe
This article is based on LifeSiteNews articles from May 13 and 25 and is used with permission.