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Canada March 15, 2018

Free speech issues could help March for Life: organizers

By Deborah Gyapong

Marchers at last year’s March for Life in Ottawa. Organizers are working with police to reroute this year’s march to take into account Ontario’s new ‘bubble zone’ legislation. (CCN photo)

OTTAWA (CCN)—The abortion “bubble zone” legislation and other assaults on free expression could galvanize this year’s May 10 March for Life and make it even bigger, say organizers.

“With the attack on freedom of speech, expression and conscience from the highest levels of government – Justin Trudeau’s politicization of the Canada Summer Jobs Program and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s abortion bubble zones, the widespread promotion of deadly chemical abortion in Canada, and the federal government’s global abortion fund, funded by Canadian tax dollars, it is very clear that our political leaders in this country are driven by radical ideologies that place the future of our nation in jeopardy,” said Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life Coalition in a release. “If they come after the rights of pro-life Canadians today, whose rights will they remove next?”

“I think a lot of people have woken up,” said Campaign Life project manager Matthew Wojciechowski in an interview. “The ‘bubble zone’ and the Summer Jobs program have been a real factor in waking people up to realize we can’t go by living our life silently. This is a form of totalitarianism and it’s wrong.”

“We’re hoping people will decide to show up in even larger numbers this year, given these issues,” he said.

“The march has always been about ending abortion,” he said. “That’s always been the primary goal.”

However, the movement also encompasses the fight against euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the fight for conscience rights and for religious freedom and freedom of expression, he said.

“We need to be fully committed to speak the truth, especially in the face of growing persecution,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer, Campaign Life Coalition in a release. “The March for Life theme ‘PRO-LIFE ALL.IN.’ encourages Canadians to stand up for life without compromise, no exceptions and no excuses.”

While Campaign Life is expecting to draw over 20,000 people to the March this year on May 10, the bubble zone legislation has created a lot of uncertainty concerning logistics.

“We don’t know what is going to happen because of the route,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s our biggest concern at the moment.”

“At the same time, the show must go on!” he said. “We’re going as every year, getting people on buses, organizing school trips and church trips and we’ll see what happens.”

Paul Lauzon, of Campaign Life’s Ottawa office, said organizers have met with Ottawa police and presented with four possible routes, none of which will pass by the Morgentaler abortion facility on Bank St. The March has traditionally looped through Ottawa’s downtown, returning to Parliament Hill via Bank Street.

Ottawa police told them they would not engage counter protestors if they stand in the way, but will reroute the march on the spot, Lauzon said. March organizers said they’ll respect the bubble zone to protect marchers, the decorum of the march, and to preserve a good relationship with the police.

The March for Life faces another hurdle. It has yet to hear whether the committee that grants access to Parliament Hill grounds has approved this year’s March.

“I don’t know if they can ban it,” Lauzon said. “They can deny access to Parliament Hill. It it’s not available, we will have to get our own stage and electrical equipment.” 

“One certainty is the march is going to happen and we’re coming down to Ottawa,” he said. “The March is not being cancelled. There is no way we’re going to cancel that.”

Another difference this year is that the east lawn of Parliament Hill may be barricaded because the ice rink set up for Canada 150 celebrations damaged the water and sprinkling system, Lauzon said. Right now, the march will likely only have the west lawn and the centre walkway and steps to Centre Block. If that is not approved, Lauzon mused about using Wellington Street in front of the Hill.

The keynote speaker for the annual Rose Dinner following the March is Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life. Foster served as president of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA and as a litigator with the Alliance for Defending Freedom. 

Sought-after chastity speaker Paul J. Kim, who shares his message via beatboxing, is speaking at the youth banquet that annually draws more than 800 people 30 and under.

The annual youth conference May 11 following the march features Christina Lamb, a registered nurse and assistant professor with the nursing faculty at the University of Alberta. Her area of expertise is conscience in health care practice and bioethics education.

Also speaking is international speaker Stephanie Gray, author of Love Unleashes Life: Abortion & the Art of Communicating Truth and A Physician’s Guide to Discussing Abortion. 

Rounding out the agenda, is Campaign Life Youth coordinator Marie-Claire Bissonnette, who “challenges young people to move being social media ‘slactivism’ into ‘human interactions’ to advance real change in culture,” according to the march website.

The media-savvy Bissonnette has voiced a number of videos in a series #RU-CRAZY on the dangers of the abortion pill that have gone viral.

More information on the march can be found at http://www.marchforlife.ca.