OTTAWA, Ontario, May 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As pro-lifers arrived for the National March for Life on Thursday many were surprised to find that for the first time ever the RCMP had blocked off nearly a third of Parliament Hill for the “other side” of the issue, even though the area stood empty most of the day. When the noisy, chanting pro-abortion group showed up they only occupied a tiny portion of the space set aside for them as they spread along a small section of the barrier set up by the RCMP to separate the groups.

But, though it made for a cramped rally with nearly 20,000 pro-lifers squished into only two thirds of the Hill, many remarked that the arrangements highlighted the stark contrast between the growing March for Life and the sparse crowd of pro-abortion advocates.

“This injustice must end. And it will end,” declared Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and the keynote speaker at Thursday’s Rose Dinner. “Look at the multitude around you. Look at the young, look at the strong, look at your numbers. Now look at the thin, greying ranks of our opposition, which seems to have disappeared entirely.”

Former Liberal MP Pat O’Brien, who now serves as advisor to Campaign Life Coalition and introduced the 18 sitting MPs who spoke on the Hill Thursday, said he had asked one of the RCMP about the fence, who told him, “Well, you know, we’re making space for people with another opinion on the issue.”

O’Brien, pointing behind himself at Parliament, then declared, “Fine. Prime Minister Harper, it’s time to make space in there for people with another opinion!”

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Among the politicians to speak was Tory MP Stella Ambler (Mississauga South), who applauded her colleague Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre) for opening the issue in Parliament with Motion 312, which seeks to establish a special committee to re-examine section 223 of the Criminal Code. That section stipulates a child only becomes a “human being” once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb.

“Stephen has started a conversation on when life begins and you may have noticed, the sky is not falling,” she remarked.

Tory MP Mark Warawa (Langley) said Canada’s current abortion policy – with no legal protections for the unborn – is “the same as North Korea.”  “I have a dream that we respect in Canada life from conception to natural death,” he said. “I believe we need a law and I hope you do too.”

Woodworth thanked pro-lifers for coming to the march. “You need to know how important your presence here is. You need to how important your efforts are,” he said. “Not just to those of us who are encourage by your presence, but also it’s important for those who are discouraged by your presence.”

“Human rights are inherent, they’re inalienable, they are not some gift that government can cancel with a decree like section 223,” he added.

In his remarks, Mosher called abortion “the social justice issue of our time.”

“Think about it. Rocks and trees are protected in national forests and in provincial parks. Lakes and rivers are protected by environmental laws. Even the whales have international covenants to protect them,” he said. “Who is protecting unborn children? It is open season on babies in Canada and many countries around the world.”

Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition and the keynote speaker at Thursday’s youth banquet, said the pro-lifers gathered are a “prophetic witness” to Canada’s legislators.

“We call upon the Prime Minister of this wonderful country, respectfully. Listen to your people! Let the conversation begin!” he urged.

“We will not go silently into the night. We will not be quiet, we will not be apathetic, we will not be indifferent,” he continued. “We will continue to pray, march, make phone calls, write letters until the horror and violence of abortion ends and there’s human justice for everyone!”

Also addressing the rally were five Catholic bishops: Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, Archbishop Gerald Lacroix of Quebec City, Auxiliary Bishop William McGratten of Toronto, and Bishop Nicola De Angelis of Peterborough.

At the beginning of the rally, organizer Margie Mountain announced that this year’s March for Life was dedicated to the late Fr. Bob Bedard, founder of the Companions of the Cross community of priests, whom she described as “a giant among men” and a “fearless” defender of life.