Pro-life supporters carry a banner during the annual National March for Life on Parliament Hill May 12 in Ottawa.


Pro-life supporters carry a banner during the annual National March for Life on Parliament Hill May 12 in Ottawa.

May 30, 2016

As the Liberal government rushes a bill legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide through Parliament, thousands gathered in Ottawa May 12 for the annual National March for Life.

The march's focal point has always been "the threat to life at its earliest stages through abortion," Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto said in his homily at a pro-life Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral.

"These days we have witnessed a growing threat to life at the other end of the earthly journey, through the misguided decision of the Supreme Court and the preparation of legislation to implement that decision throughout our land," Collins said.

"The scourge of euthanasia and assisted suicide is upon us, and we need only look to countries of western Europe that have gone before us down this dark path to see what is in store."

Collins urged Catholics to seek holiness, keep God at the centre of their lives, communicate more effectively and build bridges by creating trust before conveying our messages.

"The building of the bridge of trust brings us back to the need for a repentant heart: If our lives contradict the message, then we will convince no one."

The cardinal encouraged marchers to act, to join the Coalition for HealthCARE, and to promote both palliative care and pregnancy care centres.

The House of Commons Justice Committee has rejected proposed amendments by Tory MPs to strengthen safeguards for vulnerable mentally ill and disabled Canadians.

"We need to stand up for the doctors, nurses and pharmacists who want to say no to euthanasia and assisted suicide," said Conservative MP Mark Warawa, who tried to get a conscience protection amendment into Bill C-14, the assisted suicide legislation.

The Justice Committee did amend Bill C-14's preamble to note the Charter's protection of freedom of conscience and religion. It now states, "nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion."


Security was tight on Parliament Hill to prevent half-naked Femen protestors from storming the steps while the bishops were speaking, as they have done the previous two years.

When a counter demonstration of 50 to 150 people tried to confront the march, police changed the route, shortening it by two blocks, to prevent any incidents, said Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes.

On the eve of the march, however, protestors interrupted the annual vigil by the Human Rights Monument, Hughes said. About 30 protestors stood in front of the pro-life speakers, blew whistles and shouted obscenities.

"There was a lot of cursing and profanity in front of the children and the nuns," he said.

Hughes, who counts members of the crowd with a clicker as they pass, estimated the crowd participating in this year's March for Life at 22,000. Crowd figures from the RCMP and mainstream media ranged from 3,000 to 5,000.