Canadian March for Life Hits New Attendance Level of 7,000 With 75% Youth
By John-Henry Westen
OTTAWA, May 11, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This year’s March for Life, the 10th annual march organized yearly by Campaign Life Coalition drew a record 7,000 participants and was populated mainly with youth, estimated at around 75% of the crowd. The rally began with speeches by various Members of Parliament, who told the assembled crowd how encouraged they were with the presence of so many young people determined to fight for the right to life of unborn children.
Wheel-chair bound, and witty Frank Mountain, the President of Campaign Life Ottawa, and the chief organizer of the March gave a special introduction to the daughter of new Conservative MP Pierre Lemieux. Elizabeth Lemieux, a dynamic, young and spirited pro-life activist who was the motivating force behind her father’s entrance into politics. Elizabeth addressed the crowd with vigour spurring her youthful companions to enthusiasm.
Former Liberal MP and now life and family activist Pat O’Brien addressed the crowd introducing MPs who made brief comments. In addition to Lemieux, Conservatives, Maurice Vellacott, Jeff Watson, Mark Warawa, Myron Thompson, James Lunney, David Anderson, Dean Del Mastro, Rod Bruinooge, and Cheryl Gallant were in attendance. Liberals included Paul Szabo and Paul Steckle, with both Tom Wappell and Andrew Sheer not able to attend as they were then engaged in parliamentary duties.
In addition to the Members of Parliament, Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition, Fr. Frank Pavone founder of Priests for Life USA, Janet Morana and Angelina Steenstra from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and many others addressed the crowd both before and after the march.
The pace of the marchers was noticeably faster as chanting groups of teens led the crowd, wearing matching pro-life t-shirts and waving signs and banners. A drummer kept beat with a favorite pro-life chant repeated again and again by school groups up and down the line. A large contingent of Knights of Columbus in full regalia was an eye-catching presence.
Canadian Catholic novelist Michael O’Brien walked through the crowd with this reporter and had these reflections to share after the march. "I felt an infusion of tremendous new hope," he said. He described the majority of participants as being "young and vitally motivated." He also noted an "increased number of Catholic and Orthodox priests in evidence." Concluding he said, "The issue of abortion is not going away and in fact this new generation is more motivated than ever."
The editor of Canada’s national pro-life newspaper The Interim, Paul Tuns, told LifeSiteNews.com that he travelled to and from the March with a busload of students from St. Michael’s College, a Catholic high school in Toronto.
"The students were excited when we went home on the bus," recalls Tuns. "The mood was upbeat," he said, "I feel reinvigorated." Tuns’ son Patrick is the President of the pro-life club at St. Mike’s and the proud father notes that the numbers from the school in attendance at the March this year doubled from last year with a full busload of 46. "Next year they’re planning two buses," he added.
Several of the March participants noted the fact that weather forecasts for Ottawa Thursday promised a thunderstorm, but no rain materialized. "It seems that every year it looks like rain, but its always beautiful weather," said Paul Tuns, chalking it up to "providence" rather than coincidence.
(photo courtesy of John Pacheco with many more from LifeSiteNews.com to come in the next few days)