OTTAWA, Ontario, May 10, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Under the constant threat of rain that failed to materialize, an exuberant and record-breaking crowd of nearly 20,000 pro-life activists gathered on Parliament Hill today in Ottawa.
The annual event marks the passage of Trudeau’s infamous “Omnibus Bill” in 1969, which struck down Canada’s ban on abortion and paved the way for abortion-on-demand.
As he does every year, Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, stood on the side of the road counting individual marchers as they walked by. Hughes told LifeSiteNews that he began doing the head count years ago because he was concerned about distorted estimates from both sides of the issue.
Today he counted a record-breaking 19,500 attendees, smashing the previous record, set at last year’s event, of 15,000.
“It was wonderful to see so many people dedicated to restoring the right to life to all human beings in Ottawa today,” Hughes told LifeSiteNews. “It is such a joyful and upbeat crowd. I want to thank all the people that made a great effort to get here. May it make for an even larger march next year and encourage all the provincial marches commemorating the death of four million Canadian children before birth.”
A group of about 75 pro-abortion counter-protesters were also present.
The annual March for Life, which is now the largest annual rally on Parliament Hill, has steadily grown from a few thousand in 1999, to today’s record-breaking numbers.
The boisterous and notably youthful crowd was energized with dynamic music by Survive 88, which blared out across Parliament Hill and into the streets. The young band are made up of alumni and students from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, a Catholic college in Barry’s Bay, Ontario.
Long-time March organizer Margie Mountain opened the event with a dedication to the late Fr. Bob Bedard, an Ottawa native who founded of the Companions of the Cross community of priests, and a revered man of faith with strong and outspoken pro-life convictions.
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Masters of Ceremony Alissa Golob and Matthew Wojciechowski of Campaign Life Coalition then welcomed Sharon Milan to lead the national anthem, followed by Don Hutchinson, vice president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, who opened the event with a prayer.
“We stand together in awe and wonder at the miracle of life,” Hutchinson said. “And we pray that the day will come when this gathering will not be necessary; when justice will be restored for the innocent voiceless; and our nation will be renewed in its foundation of dignity and respect for all human beings.”
As always, the rally before the March featured addresses from numerous pro-life Members of Parliament, including Tory MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre), who has put forward an historic motion calling for Parliament to re-examine the humanity of the unborn.
The speakers’ list also included numerous pro-life leaders, including Fr. Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International; Steve Mosher, president of Population Research Institute; Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition; Bob Cayea, Supreme Director of the Knights of Columbus; Janet Morana and Angelina Steenstra of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign; Stephen Jalsevac, managing director of LifeSiteNews.com; and Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.
Religious leaders that spoke included Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada; Most Rev. Terrence Prendergast, Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa; Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, and others.
The youngest speaker was 17-year-old pro-life activist Alexandra Jezierski, who launched a bold campaign in March called Letters4Life with the goal of sending 100,000 letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper by the March for Life urging him to reverse his stance against debating abortion.