Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill was filled with marchers last year at the National March for Life protesting abortion. Photo by Robert DuBroy

Toronto prepares to March

By 
  • April 24, 2019

OTTAWA - For the first time, Toronto and Ottawa will both be hosting a March for Life on May 9 as organizers mark 50 years of legal abortion in Canada.

The National March for Life in Ottawa has traditionally been the  centrepiece for pro-life marches that take place across the country, with many people from southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area taking buses to the nation’s capital. The decision to hold a separate march in Toronto has sparked fears that it will affect the size of the pro-life crowd in Ottawa, where organizers hope to make a strong impression on Members of Parliament.

“It’s affecting us,” said Matt Wojciechowski, vice president of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), organizer of the Ottawa march. “We have no control over this. Our focus is on making the National March for Life the best possible.

“Some buses that have always gone to Ottawa are now going to Toronto,” Wojciechowski said. “Certain schools that had previously gone to Ottawa and attended the Youth Banquet are now opting just to attend a morning trip to Toronto.”

Marches are also scheduled in other cities across Canada, including Victoria, B.C., and Edmonton.

In Toronto, organizers say they are hoping for between 2,000 and 3,000 people to attend their 10 a.m. rally downtown — details had not been finalized at press time — followed by workshops at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto hosted by the U of T Students for Life.

“We’re really pleased with how things are going as far as the word getting out,” said Mike Schouten, director of advocacy for ARPA Canada, one of the organizers of the Toronto March along with the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform (CCBR) and Toronto and Area Right to Life (TRTL).

“We’re starting to hear from people saying ‘This is great!  I’ve never been to a March for Life; this works with my schedule. I am coming out with my family, my kids,’” Schouten said.

“It’s a challenge to us to know how many people are going to show up for the actual rally,” Schouten said. “We’re likely going to exceed our expectations.”

Among the speakers for the Toronto rally and workshops are Ontario MPP Sam Oosterhoff; Christina Lee Hoff, a young woman with Down Syndrome whose video “My Life is Worth Living” went viral last year, and Jonathon Van Maren of CCBR.

“The purpose of those workshops is to equip and train pro-lifers to be advocates for preborn children throughout the year,” said Blaise Alleyne, president of TRTL. “Year by year, we march for life, but we want to make sure people day by day are equipped to stand up for pre-born human rights.”

Schouten advises people to register for the workshops via the website (torontomarchforlife.ca) as they expect about 10 per cent of the March attendees to stick around for them. 

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, is committed to attending the National March in Ottawa. He will preside at a Mass at St. Patrick’s Basilica while Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast will preside at Notre Dame Cathedral.  

“We are urging everyone to come and join the thousands of people in Ottawa on May 9 as we call upon our Parliament to bring an end to this 50-year long assault on human life,” said Wojciechowski.

An estimated four million abortions have taken place in Canada since the passage of the omnibus bill in 1969 that legalized abortion as long as doctors agreed it was necessary for the mother’s health. That law was overturned in 1988, leaving no legal barriers to abortion. 

The National March for Life in Ottawa will feature the producers of Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer at the rally on Parliament Hill. 

Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer will also speak at the Rose Dinner in the evening. In the movie, they tell the story of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who murdered babies born alive after late-term abortions. Though the movie did well in the United States, despite being blocked by many distributors, it has never been shown in Canada. The film was based on a best-selling book by the married couple.

Information about the National March is at marchforlife.ca.




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