You are on page 1of 2

This article has since been removed by Macleans, but below is a retrieved cache copy from the original

address: http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=20070510_175904_9532
CATEGORY: MACLEANS.CA

Lust for life


A small contingent of MPs is willing to see and be seen at an anti-abortion
rally
Kady O'Malley, Macleans.ca | May 10, 2007 | 21:59:07

OTTAWA - It's a political minefield that most MPs prefer to avoid. And so when pro-life activists gather annually in the
capital to encourage like-minded politicians to take more of an active role in their cause, even most of Parliament's
anti-abortion contingent tend to stay away.
Such was the case again at this year's March for Life, the lobbying blitz highlighted by a rally on Parliament Hill. But
for a few staunchly pro-life MPs, the ninth annual edition of the event was too important to stay away from.
Perhaps they were inspired by the event's main speaker: former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien, who spent years as one of
the small but vocal minority of social conservatives within the Liberal caucus until parting ways with his party over the
same-sex marriage bill in 2005. Although the Conservatives(then in opposition)lauded him for standing on principle,
he resisted entreaties to join their caucus and sat as an independent until he retired from politics in 2006 to devote
himself to the "pro-family" lobby on a fulltime basis.
Over the course of the hour-long lunchtime rally, several of O'Brien's former caucus colleagues dropped by to show
their solidarity and address the crowd. Among them were Paul Szabo and Paul Steckle, the latter of whom co-chairs
the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus with Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott - himself in attendance as well. Indeed,
there was considerably better representation from the Conservative caucus: Jeff Watson, Mark Warawa, Myron
Thompson, James Lunney, David Anderson, Dean Del Mastro, Rod Bruinooge and Pierre Lemieux all joined
Vellacott. Liberal Tom Wappell and Conservative Andrew Scheer sent their regrets - one was stuck in committee, the
other serving as deputy speaker. As for the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, they unsurprisingly gave it a miss
altogether.
As for Cheryl Gallant, the Tory MP whose comparison at an earlier March for Life of abortion to the beheading of
American Nicholas Berg by Iraqi insurgents haunted the Conservatives during the 2004 election, she stopped by
briefly. But this time, she stayed well away from the microphone and the TV cameras.
The politicans who did address the crowd were fairly brief and generic in their remarks. Almost every one made a
point of thanking his mother for not having had an abortion, spoke lovingly of his own children and grandchildren and
urged the crowd not to give up the fight. "The laws will change in this country," promised Del Mastro.
Not surprisingly, the anticipated media coverage - or at least the anticipated lack thereof - was a running theme in the
speeches delivered by politicians and professional pro-life activists alike.
In his speech, Vellacott claimed the annual gathering is consistently among the largest crowds to hit the Hill but is still
ignored by the press - a sentiment echoed by O'Brien. "Whatever the media might say," he assured the crowd,
"there's never a rally to match this one."
Media reports and police estimates put the number at somewhere between two and three thousand, including several

large contingents of students from local Catholic high schools. Also in attendance was a batallion from the Knights of
Coumbus in full parade regalia, which made it through the whole event without visibly wilting under the unforgiving
noontime sun.
Representing the other side of the debate and waving an easily spotted rainbow banner, a tiny band of pro-choice
supporters wove in and out of the assembled masses. Among the counterpicket signs: "Pregnant and Pro Choice."
The group stuck around for the first few speakers, but left after a rival cluster moved in to block its display from view.
The extravaganza winds down Thursday night with the Rose Dinner - no relation, it bears noting, to the White Rose
Dinner hosted by far more extremist American pro-lifers - and the screening of Bella, a Mexican movie that March for
Life organizers promise has a "pro-life theme."