Protesters are pictured at the annual March For Life at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 11, 2023.

Thousands gather for annual March for Life protest in Ottawa

  • May 11, 2023

On a 25-degree blue sky May day in Ottawa, Canada’s national pro-life movement made clear it has no intention of calling “may day” in the battle against abortion and Medical Aid in Dying.

Motivated by this year’s theme “Stand Firm,” thousands of pro-lifers thronged Parliament Hill for prayer, music and speeches before setting off on the annual March for Life through the city’s downtown core.

“We march forward,” American guest speaker Haywood Robinson exhorted the crowd just before it spilled out the Wellington Street gates in front of Parliament’s centre block. “You’re standing right now but we’ve got to move forward into the Promised Land.”

Wearing a burgundy T-shirt bearing the message “abortion kills trees – family trees,” Robinson urged the marchers to remember they are fighting “a spiritual battle” not just for a political or social cause.

The 40-year veteran medical doctor said he learned first-hand the real nature of that battle when he made a living for the early years of his career as an abortionist. An encounter with and then commitment to Christ revealed to him that the entire abortion industry is founded on a series of lies, for example that women are better off psychologically aborting “unwanted” pregnancies and that abortion is a simple, pain free procedure. In fact, he said, the only easy thing about the industry is abortion providers earn money from it. With his Black church speaking style, Robinson raised cheers from the crowd by telling them to have no doubt Christ will bring ultimate victory.

“Jesus is leading this battle and you can’t lose with the stuff He use,” he said.

The multi-generational crowd of grey hairs, young families, teen and early 20 activists, priests, preachers and religious ate it as they delighted in the spring sunshine and the energy from a feeling of post-Roe change in the air.

“Mighty, mighty pro-life,” youthful banner bearers at the front of the march chanted as they made their way up Kent Street within shouting distance of the Supreme Court of Canada building where the Morgentaler decision in their grandparents’ day vacated the country’s laws governing abortion.

“I’m a child, not a choice; represent me, be my voice,” others in the crowd called out.

Archbishop Leo, the newly-installed bishop of Toronto, joined in supporting the pro-lifers in his "Message for Life" published the same day.

"In remembering with devotion Our Lady, the Mother of our spiritual family, the Church, it is also fitting that this month we pray for the sanctity of all life. The National March for Life and other local events remind us of our call to build the Kingdom of Christ which includes publicly affirming the sacredness of life from the moment of conception to natural death," the archbishop wrote

The contingent of pro-choice counter protestors that turns out every year to dog the annual March was notable for its almost-miniscule size. Apparently fewer than 100 of them, the majority of whom appeared to be mainly high school age or early university age, stood behind metal barriers repeatedly chanting “my body, my choice” and holding up signs demanding that sexually abusive priests be jailed – as if that isn’t already the case.

Unlike in the earlier years of the 26-year-old March organized by the Campaign Life Coalition, when both sides occasionally engaged in face to face shouting matches, pro-lifers seemed unperturbed by their would-be antagonists, heeding urgings from speakers on the stage to treat them with love. One marcher even acknowledged he agreed with the part of the slogan shouted from the other side.

“I agree it’s their choice,” Aaron Head told The Catholic Register. “What I don’t agree with is the implications of their choice.”

Last modified on May 18, 2023

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.