Who runs Canada? You might think that “the people” do, in light of the fact that we’re supposedly living in a democracy.

But some might argue that politicians do, or at least a small cadre of inner cabinet ministers and the prime minister. Others might posit for special-interest groups, under the thinking that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Still others might say corporations or international financiers, because of our increasingly trans-national, globalized world.

Pro-lifers will get unique insights into these and related questions this summer when a senator directly involved in the political process addresses the National Pro-Life Conference. The event takes place July 2-4 in the Hamilton suburb of Ancaster.

The “Canada: Who’s in Charge?” plenary session will feature Senator Anne Cools, who was named the first-ever black senator by Pierre Trudeau in 1984. She has gained notoriety as a “renegade,” “a thorn in the government’s side” and “a rebel” for challenging, and even blocking, her party’s proposed legislation in several areas. Last year, she held up passage of a child support bill and so jeopardized her permanent position on the Senate’s social affairs, science and technology committee.

Cools has been branded a right-wing anti-feminist for opposing a proposed new Divorce Act and for pointing out (on International Women’s Day in 1995, no less) that women are just as guilty as men in abusing children. She blasted “feminist ideologues” who have obscured the role women play in domestic violence by perpetuating a myth that men are almost exclusively to blame for child abuse.

Cools’s insights will join those of several others over the conference’s three days. Other sessions will examine topics such as palliative care, the human genome project, new medical technologies and abortion and euthanasia as being two sides of the same coin

The founder of Crossroads Christian Communications (which recently received CRTC approval for a 24-hour television channel) David Mainse, will speak on opening night. Patricia Bainbridge, executive director of the Planned Parenthood-watchdog organization Life Decisions International, will be the keynote speaker on the Saturday night, following a banquet.

“She’s a very dynamic speaker,” said conference organizer and Hamilton Right to Life president Jacqueline DeJong. “She educates the public on exactly what Planned Parenthood is about and effective strategies to combat their work in communities.”

Friday evening’s events will allow participants to choose between a barbecue supper with entertainment, and a bus trip to Niagara Falls.

A recent change has seen U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith dropped from the event. According to DeJong, the proximity of the conference to U.S. Independence Day celebrations July 4 made it too tricky for Smith to try to make it to Canada..

The conference takes place on the grounds of Redeemer College. The College’s facilities include a large double gymnasium, squash courts, an outdoor beach volleyball court, weight room, soccer field and recreational centre. Guests will also be able to access the extensive library and browse through the bookstore.

Limited accommodation is available at the College, but you’ll have to act fast as the accommodation registration cutoff date is May 31. Housekeeping services, bedding and towels will be provided. Coin-operated laundry rooms will also be available. A cheaper conference rate is available until May 31.

The theme of the event is “The Canadian Quilt: A Life Pattern,” which will invite participants to contribute a patch toward quilts that will be a visual memorial to unborn children lost through abortion. The quilts will eventually be donated to relief organizations and other causes that might find them useful.

DeJong said organizers are busy ironing out the details as the conference approaches. “It’s a lot of paperwork behind the scenes, and phone calling, right now,” she said.

For more information, contact Hamilton Right to Life at (905)528-3065.