The 20th March for Life in Ottawa on May 11 brought thousands to Parliament Hill to spread their message. Deborah Gyapong

March for Life: Euthanasia has 'brought shame' to Canada, says cardinal

  • May 12, 2017

OTTAWA — Cardinal Thomas Collins told the 20th National March for Life on May 11 euthanasia and the crushing of conscience rights “brings shame to our country.”

“It’s very important that we are here,” said Cardinal Collins of Toronto at the pre-March rally on Parliament Hill. Our presence is a “sign of our fidelity” and a “witness to life.”

“We do not own life, we are merely entrusted with that gift from the moment of conception until natural death,” the Cardinal said. “Both legislators and the judiciary have turned away from the sanctity of life. The legalization of euthanasia and the “accompanying crushing of conscience rights brings shame to our country.”

He urged the thousands gathered on the Hill to use their hands, hearts and heads to fight for the sanctity of life. Use your hands in in service to those who may need love and care to persuade them not to avail themselves of euthanasia, he said.

In addition to the 20th annual National March, where organizers estimated the crowd at 15,000, there were marches across the country, including Regina, Edmonton and Victoria, B.C.

In Ottawa, the day was marked with controversy when the March for Life flag was raised at City Hall in the morning, only to be taken down hours later after a burst of outrage from pro-choice advocates and some city councillors. Mayor Jim Watson was criticized for allowing the flag, but he insisted it he did not issue the approval and has ordered a review of the policy. The city often gives permission for charitable and non-profit causes to fly a flag at city hall, as long as it does not endorse hatred, racism or violence.

Collins encouraged people to use their hearts, especially in the silence of prayer, to ask the Lord for guidance on how to be effective in fighting for life.

And he asked them to use their heads. “We always have to think clearly about what we are doing. Is it effective?” he asked.

All of us “want the elimination of abortion and euthanasia,” he said. Referring to the teaching of St. Pope John Paul II, he said: “If we ask for either all or nothing, we are going to get nothing.”

John Paul II urged people to advance so as to “get something,” so that eventually we will get everything, he said.

Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu was the first of 14 sitting Conservative MPs to address the crowd gathered for the March, announcing the good news her private member’s bill C-277, calling for a national palliative care framework, has gone to third reading with the unanimous support of all parties. It now goes to the Senate.

“This will give people the ability to live as well as they can for as long as they can,” Gladu said.

Though as usual, the March was a joyful occasion where pro-lifers gather annually to reinvigorate the movement, political division over over tactics in the Tory Leadership race intruded on the event.

Campaign Life Coalition, organizers of the March, highlighted the two pro-life leadership candidates they have supported: Conservative MP Brad Trost and former Conservative MP Pierre Lemieux. Both are solid pro-life candidates who have put life and family front and centre in their campaigns.

Both candidates were able to make a final campaign pitch at the March.

Campaign Life had issued a voters’ guide disqualifying all the other candidates, including Conservative MP Andrew Scheer. They urged supporters to leave the rest of the 10-slot ranked ballot blank. There are 13 leadership candidates in the race.

Scheer, the former Speaker of the House, who also has a perfect pro-life voting record in Parliament, ran afoul of Campaign Life because he said during his campaign he would not bring in legislation on abortion as Prime Minister because the party is not united on that issue.

Tensions in the leadership are running high because Scheer is running second to the frontrunner MP Maxime Bernier, a Quebec Conservative MP and libertarian. Conservative Party members are mailing in their ballots sent out by the Party in early May. The leader will be chosen May 27.

During the pre-March rally, six sitting MPs either endorsed Scheer or urged people to vote for all three pro-life candidates.

“We have three strong candidates who are prolife but I’m supporting Andrew Scheer,” said Conservative MP Kevin Sorensen.

Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall, who put forward Bill C-225 Cassie and Mollie’s Law to make it an additional crime to harm or kill and unborn child when committing a violent crime against the mother, highlighted the fact her bill was not a pro-life bill, since it did nothing to prevent legal abortion. Even so, a wide range of pro-life groups supported her bill because it recognized a woman’s right to have her child.

“That’s using our heads,” she said, noting a Nanos poll had shown 75 per cent of Canadian women wanted a law protecting unborn crime victims.

“Do not give up on what you are doing,” she said. “We all know God is sovereign. The life of every individual is important.”

“We have three solid pro-life candidates,” she said, saying she was putting Scheer in as number one. “I’m using my head.”

Scheer did not attend the March. Instead, he sent a message read by Conservative MP Garnett Genuis.

The opportunity to vote for a prolife Conservative leadership candidate did not translate into bigger numbers for this year’s March.

The cool, cloudy and windy day after a rainy spell that has caused flooding along the Ottawa River didn't help the crowd numbers. Organizers had hoped to break 25,000.

Eight Catholic bishops and two Anglican bishops from the Anglican Church in North America were present on Parliament Hill. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast explained the Quebec bishops are in Rome making their ad limina visits so a number of bishops who usually attend sent their best wishes instead.

Three Senators also spoke on the Hill.

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