Monday May 17, 2010

Canada’s March for Life Draws Unprecedented Media Coverage

By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, May 17, 2010 ( – The Canadian March for Life on Parliament Hill in Ottawa drew unprecedented media coverage from across the country this year, hitting the front page of major national papers, and receiving prominent attention from the broadcast networks.

The event made the cover of the National Post (NP), which featured a large shot of a young pro-life man, and the headline ‘Sense of momentum bolsters pro-life rally.’

The march also got full front-page coverage from the Toronto and Ottawa Sun, as well as in 24 in Ottawa and Toronto. It drew 30-second pieces on CBC’s The National and the CTV National News, and it was the lead item on CTV Ottawa, with over two minutes devoted to the event.

The Toronto Star’s coverage, however, which featured a large front-page shot of the crowd, is perhaps the most notable given the paper’s wide circulation and well-known pro-abortion leanings. The Star article, which described the crowd as “huge” in the headline, estimated the number of attendees at 15,000, exceeding the 12,500 estimated by the organizer, Campaign Life Coalition.

This level of coverage is unprecedented in the March’s 13-year history. Media silence regarding the march, even in the face of hours-long traffic disruptions in downtown Ottawa, has become cliché among pro-lifers, and even Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast made reference to it in his homily Thursday at the cathedral.

Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer of Campaign Life Coalition, pointed out, however, that the flurry of coverage should not be taken as indicating a sudden conversion in Canada’s media.

“There were several things that came together this year,” she said. “It’s not because the media’s had a great conversion.

“I mean, we had 12,000 last year and they couldn’t have cared less, but obviously something was different this year. The issue of abortion was news.”

Douglas pointed out that abortion has been in the media for the last several months, due to the Conservative government’s decision not to fund abortion through their G8 maternal and child health plan.

Most of the news reports about the march attempted to put the pro-life event in the context of the G8 plan, with many of them attributing the massive crowd size and the upbeat atmosphere of the event to the government’s decision not to fund abortions overseas.

But while there are external reasons for the media’s attention this year, said Douglas, the level of coverage is undoubtedly good news for the pro-life movement. “Any time we can get the message out that this is a human being and a human is being aborted is positive,” she said.

“We just keep praying, putting ourselves in God’s hands and doing the best we can.”