Thousands Gather in Ottawa for March for Life Event

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Thousands of Canadians begin the annual National March For Life in downtown Ottawa on May 9. 2024. (Matthew Horwood/The Epoch Times)

Matthew Horwood

By Matthew Horwood

OTTAWA—Several thousand people gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 9 for the 27th annual National March For Life event to advocate for pro-life policies in Canada. 

“Why do they rally and march in the public square? They come to stand in the place of the pre-born child who cannot rally and cannot march,” Pete Baklinski, communications director for Campaign Life Coalition, the event organizer, said at a press conference held a day earlier.

“It is not just one pre-born child, but more than 4 million whose lives have been tragically snuffed out since abortion first became permitted in 1969.”

Thousands of Canadians, motivated by this year’s theme of “I will never forget you,” gathered on Parliament Hill on May 9 for prayer and speeches before partaking in their annual March for Life through Ottawa’s downtown core. The crowd held signs with slogans such as “Killing is not caring,” “Love life, choose life,” and “Unborn lives matter.”

Human rights lawyer Lia Milousis told the audience she believed abortion is “fundamentally premised on an impoverished understanding of women’s equality.”

“The reality is that women’s rights cannot be premised on the destruction and dehumanization of their own children,” she said. “We need to fight for a society that understands that women, as well as their children, need to be accommodated.”

Ms. Milousis also spoke about medically assisted death in Canada, highlighting the statistic that an estimated 50,000 Canadians have used the procedure since it became legal in 2016. She said medical assistance in dying (MAID) has been used by elderly, disabled, and vulnerable Canadians, “who we should be fighting for and protecting, not killing.”

Parliament passed Bill C-7 in March 2021, which repealed the stipulation from the 2016 MAID legislation stating that an individual’s death has to be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for the procedure. An expansion of MAID to include individuals whose sole underlying condition is a mental illness has been pushed back until March 2027 while the government ensures the health-care system is prepared. 

“I’m sure there are thousands of young people here today, and people of all ages who feel the effects of mental health,” Ms. Milousis said. “Part of being pro-life, it’s not just being opposed to something, but it’s fighting for the inherent value and dignity and equality of every single human life—regardless of age, regardless of ability, regardless of independence, regardless of any of these factors that society says changes one’s value.”

Several Conservative MPs were also present at the rally. MP Cathay Wagantall told the crowd that she has brought forth three private member’s bills before Parliament focused on protecting pregnant women.

“If you think it’s a battle out here, you know, it’s a battle in there,” Ms. Wagantall said, gesturing toward Parliament.

The Tory MP also said that when speaking to a “feminist” university class about her bill against sex-selective abortion, she noticed that many of the students supported her. “They were appalled to learn that that was happening in Canada and supported my bill,” she said, adding that many Canadian women “think they’re pro-choice in a way that is not reality.”

Notwithstanding Clause and Abortion

Dozens of people gathered for a counter-protest on Parliament Hill, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and several New Democrat MPs. Leah Gazan told the crowd that her party has always stood for women’s right to choose and that it would not stop fighting for abortion access until “that right is no longer threatened.”


“Abortion is health care, and any threat to take away that fundamental right is taking away our right to access health care,” she said.

The counter-protestors chanted slogans like “Abortion saves lives,” “Abortion rights are human rights,” and “Free abortion on demand from B.C. to Newfoundland.”

During question period on May 9, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland accused the Conservative Party of not supporting women’s right to choose. She also brought up Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s recent comments suggesting that he would use the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ notwithstanding clause on criminal justice matter.

“He would pick which rights people have. … This is deeply concerning, Mr. Speaker. Canadians have a right to know,” Ms. Freeland said.

Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien also raised concerns that the Tories would use the notwithstanding clause to roll back abortion access. “It wasn’t long ago that abortion, itself, was a crime. We will not go back,” she said.

Conservative spokesperson Sebastian Skamski responded to Ms. Ien’s comments by saying that a Conservative government would not use the notwithstanding clause on abortion.

“These outlandish claims show the true desperation of Justin Trudeau and his flailing Liberals,” he said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

Conservative MP Arnold Viersen, who also spoke at the May 9 rally, criticized the Liberal government for having a “total disregard for life,” citing its attempts to expand MAID as an example.

“We will work hard to build a Canada that’s filled with hope instead of hurt,” he said.

Matthew Horwood is a reporter based in Ottawa. 

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