Peter Baklinski

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Parliament ‘Hill Cam’ does not lie, reveals larger numbers at 2013 March for Life

Peter Baklinski
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OTTAWA, Ontario, May 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – It’s a commonly acknowledged fact among pro-lifers that the mainstream media will go out of its way to downplay the number of people swamping Parliament Hill for the annual March for Life every spring.

This year was no different with CBC’s political pundit Kady O’Malley live tweeting the crowd to be about 5000 people, revising that number to between 12,000 to 15,000 after speaking with police. QMI Agency set the attendance of Thursday's rally at about 5,000. Other media outlets, basing their reports on numbers given by unnamed police officers at the event, estimated the number to be between 12,000 and 15,000 people.

But one eyewitness that does not lie is the webcam across the street from Parliament Hill. Images from the “Hill Cam” in the past three years confirm that the abortion issue is attracting an ever increasing number of people concerned about justice for the unborn. The 2013 crowd in the photo is considerably denser than previous years.

“It’s getting bigger every year. I give it about 5-7 years or even less before we cover the grounds completely and start overflowing on to the streets,” wrote John Pacheco on his blog Socon or Bust on the day of the march. Pacheco has captured and analyzed “Hill Cam” shots of the March for Life for the past three years.

Organizer of the event, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), estimated the notably larger crowd this year to be around 25,000, the biggest turnout ever.

CLC has a method for arriving at its estimates. One advantage that the Canadian March for Life has over other events that draw large crowds to the Hill is that the crowd does not simply remain stationary on Parliament grounds. At the end of the rally it marches en mass through the narrow streets of Ottawa. For the last decade of marches, CLC has stood by the roadside, physically counting the number of passersby in groups of 10.

“I find a place along the route and I camp out there and count them as they come by, and I have my own system now to do it,” explained Jim Hughes, President of Campaign Life Coalition, in a 2011 interview with LifeSiteNews.com.

“What I will not do is I will not inflate numbers just so we all feel better,” said Hughes.

CLC argues that its method is by far the most accurate way of counting the crowd. In 2011, CLC counted 15,000 people at the march. In 2012 the number rose to 19,500. This year, CLC was not able to do the usual count, but estimated that the number increased to approximately 25,000 participants.

While some may accuse CLC of bias in counting numbers at its own event, the political arm of the pro-life movement is not the only respectable organization speaking about tens of thousands of people at the annual pro-life event.

The House of Commons put out a memo the day before the march about the "enhanced security measures" — which included barricades, limited vehicle access, stricter requirements for displaying ID, and only pre-reserved tours of Centre Block — that were to be put into effect the next day. The House mentioned that the total number of demonstrators expected “is estimated at 20,000”.

Pacheco is convinced that the increasing numbers at the pro-life rally indicate a shift taking place across the country that favors life. He believes that such a shift taking place makes it inevitable that abortion will one day be overturned in Canada.

“Right now, the momentum is shifting. Right now, our numbers are growing. Right now, their numbers [abortion advocates] are aging,” he said.

Pacheco said that abortion advocates are having trouble keeping their numbers up. About 100 abortion advocates, what amounts to roughly one abortion advocate to every 125 pro-lifers, counter protested at the pro-life event in a small corner of the Hill that had been sectioned-off with metal barricades by police. The counter protest area this year was a fraction of the size it had been the previous year when police had sectioned-off a third of the Parliament grounds for only 75 abortion advocates.

Pacheco said that despite the pro-life shift that is emerging, mainstream media, many politicians, and abortion advocates refuse to acknowledge the change that is happening.

“They see some of the surface changes, but they don’t see the fundamental changes happening which will eventually transform how this country views abortion. In their own self-righteousness and pride, our opponents do not expect any real change is coming.”

Pacheco said that it’s just a matter of time before the pro-life movement overcomes opposition.

“Once you catch the momentum, it’s very hard to reverse course. Right now, on the abortion issue, the momentum is on our side. We’ve got it all. And there’s no stopping us, either,” he said.

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