Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson paradoxically rushed to affirm his belief in the “right to choose” only hours after declaring an honorary day of recognition for the unborn’s right to life in Canada.

As thousands of pro-lifers gathered on Parliament Hill May 12 to demand protections for Canada’s unborn, the mayor of Canada’s capital city is facing controversy over his declaration that May 12 is “Respect for Life Day” in honor of the National March for Life.

“I don’t happen to agree with those who want to take away a woman’s right to choose,” Watson told reporters May 11. “But … it’s not the mayor’s personal beliefs and hunches that should rule the day.”

The mayor also said he would consider proclaiming a Henry Morgentaler Day if it met the city’s criteria. Morgentaler, an abortionist, spearheaded the procedure’s legalization in Canada.

The proclamation of “Respect for Life Day,” signed by the mayor at the behest of the March for Life organizers, declared “the rights of the people of Canada, including the unborn, the elderly and those with handicaps are gradually being eroded… The community needs to get involved to ensure the rights of all people are respected and upheld,” it added.

When LifeSiteNews reported the proclamation May 10, it provoked immediate praise from pro-lifers who took to social media outlets to congratulate the mayor.

Several media abortion advocates emphasized that the declaration means nothing because the city’s proclamation policy stipulates that it does not constitute a “personal or civic endorsement.” Others, such as Randall Denley of the Ottawa Citizen, questioned why the city would bother to proclaim days if they are indeed meaningless.

Many also claimed the document violated a clause in the city’s policy stating that proclamations will not be made for “politically or religiously motivated” causes. But according to, Mayor Watson said the political qualification refers to “big P” politics.

“Every decision we make, or every proclamation, you can claim is political in one way or another,” he said. “But the intent of the policy is to ensure that we are not getting into partisan politics by denouncing a prime minister or denouncing a premier or attacking a political party, because that’s not our role.”

The mayor said he has no concerns signing proclamations that do not violate the Ontario Human Rights Code, and suggested that the city might have risked a human rights complaint had he refused. “If we start saying ‘no’ based on my own personal views, we’re going to be ending up on the human rights commission, and I’m not prepared to bring the city through that,” he said.

The theme of this year’s annual march, which commemorated 42 years since abortion was legalized in Canada, is “Abortion Kills a Human Being.” The march has become the largest annual gathering on Parliament Hill, with over 15,000 people attending this year’s event.

The Ottawa Citizen reported “The City of Ottawa has issued such a proclamation every year since 2002 without significant controversy.”

-With files from Paul Tuns

A version of this article originally appeared May 12 at and is reprinted with permission.