Canada’s March for Life makes a splash in national media
OTTAWA, Ontario, May 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Canada’s record-breaking National March for Life made a splash in the national media this year, reversing a long-standing trend in the mainstream media of diligently ignoring the largest annual rally on Parliament Hill.
Over 15,000 pro-lifers gathered on the Hill Thursday for Canada’s 14th annual National March for Life, which marked the 42nd anniversary of Trudeau’s infamous Omnibus Bill that paved the way for abortion-on-demand.
For the second straight year, the march won coverage in all the major media outlets, including the CBC, CTV, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, National Post, Metro, and Global.
In particular, the overwhelmingly positive coverage from the Sun News Network revealed how the new station will likely be a game-changer for national media coverage of pro-life issues.
The reporting was admittedly not all positive, however, with many media outlets giving equal attention to the small pro-abortion counter-protest, and the CBC reporting an estimate of 5,000 despite the official count of over 15,000. As well, while the Globe and Mail published a Canadian Press article about the march on its website, it was nowhere to be found in the paper’s print edition.
On the other hand, Postmedia, which runs the National Post and a chain of local papers across the country, ran a relatively-positive piece headlined ‘Party atmosphere on Parliament Hill for anti-abortion rally’. “Had it not been for the signs expressing sentiments such as ‘Abortion: A Crime Against Humanity,’ Thursday’s anti-abortion rally would have looked like Canada Day on Parliament Hill, as thousands gathered under sunny skies for the 14th annual March for Life,” it read.
Toronto’s 680 News, one of the city’s top radio stations, included a relatively lengthy and very positive report on the march in its news reports for that day. Reporter Cormac McSweeney is said to have been enthusiastic, putting emphasis on the word “thousands” and consistently using the word “pro-life” in the report. Two pro-lifers were interviewed.
Sun News offered by far the most complete and positive coverage from the mainstream media, however. Their top story Thursday morning was a poll they had commissioned in advance of the March showing that 59% of Canadians want legal restrictions on abortion and more than quarter want protections for the unborn from conception. They also ran an internet poll on abortion throughout the day.
Brian Lilley, the host of Sun News’ Byline, dedicated his show Thursday evening to abortion, with an opening call for Canadians to build a culture of life. “We need to speak openly about what an abortion is. It’s the killing of an unborn child,” said Lilley. “[The unborn child] is a human life flourishing inside a woman.”
“Not only do these abortions end a human life, they hurt the women involved. We need to help these women,” he added.
Lilley also engaged in a dialogue with Abacus pollster David Caletto, debunking the myth that it would be political suicide for Canadian politicians to enshrine in law some legal protections for the unborn.
(See video here.)
Lilley, and Sun News coverage in general were refreshingly clear, in a way perhaps unprecedented for a national media outlet, about the vastly misunderstood status quo of abortion law in Canada – namely that there has been no abortion law since 1988, and thus abortion is legal and state-funded up until birth.
Though there has been a spattering of media coverage over the march’s history, it made its first major breakthrough into the media spotlight last year, fueled by the controversy over the Conservative government’s exclusion of abortion funding from its G8 maternal health initiative.
This year’s march won a huge amount of free publicity in the days before the event, after LifeSiteNews broke the story that Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson had proclaimed May 12th ‘Respect for Life Day’ in honor of the March for Life.
The perhaps unprecedented level of coverage was foreshadowed by the fact that the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s most pro-abortion papers, announced the pro-life event in advance, on Thursday morning. The Ottawa Citizen also announced the event beforehand, promising coverage and photos, as well linking to Parliament’s webcam so readers could see the massive crowd.