By Jonathon Van Maren
Across the country yesterday, Canadians marched to mourn fifty years of legal abortion and to renew our collective commitment to fight on. Nearly 10,000 people marched on Parliament Hill, triggering a new round of fervent declarations of support for abortion from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Four hundred more rallied at Queen’s Park in Toronto, and thousands also gathered in Edmonton and Victoria. All of this provoked a worried column in Chatelaine Magazine asking, “Why are so many Gen Zers joining Canada’s anti-abortion movement?”
I attended the Toronto March for Life, where I did a livestream to the crowd on the international pro-life movement’s progress before the rally began. A swarm of protestors began to show up about an hour before things got started, and their numbers eventually swelled to around 100 or so. As usual, they were so profane, unpleasant, and hostile that it was almost as if we’d paid them to show up in order to highlight the difference between a movement bubbling with hatred and those who had shown up with loved ones to defend pre-born babies. As I noted during the livestream, perhaps they scream so loudly in order to drown out their own consciences.
Around a quarter of the signs featured the f-bomb, rather negating the oft-cited concerns of abortion activists that children might be damaged by being exposed to the pro-life message (which is that we should protect all children.) One sign demanded to know why pro-lifers were all the sort of people “you wouldn’t want to f*** in the first place,” another protestor was flapping a rainbow flag, and there was more than enough illiteracy to go around. Fortunately, the police formed a hard line between the families and the rabble, and several attempts by abortion supporters to skulk towards the crowd were thwarted by stern warnings.
The rally itself featured a wide range of speeches from every corner of the pro-life movement. I gave a short speech, along with my colleagues Devorah Gilman, Maaike Rosendal, and Sam Sey. Mike Schouten of We Need A Law spoke on the necessity of political action on the pro-life issue, and student activist Anna Hiebert explained why pro-life work on campus is so important. Christina Lee Fast, a young woman with Down syndrome, gave an impassioned plea for understanding and protection—abortion, she said, is exterminating people like her. She moved the crowd to tears, as did a mother who gave her testimony of having had an abortion years before.
I especially appreciated the three Progressive Conservative MPPs who came out to address the crowd: Christina Mitas, Sam Oosterhoff, and Will Bouma. All three speeches were excellent, and I thought as I watched them that Canada would be a much better place if we had more legislators willing to display the courage of their convictions. Bouma (who happens to be my MPP) bluntly told the crowd that one of the many reasons he is pro-life is because God has a plan for each and every baby that is created. Oosterhoff got swarmed by the media for announcing that, “We pledge to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime.” Mitas observed that when 100,000 babies are aborted every year, “something has gone horribly wrong.”
The progressive hyenas of Twitter, of course, immediately rushed panting and slavering to demand condemnations and evictions and disavowals of various kinds, stunned that there are still politicians willing to say that pre-born children in the womb are valuable and worthy of protection. Because they have announced for decades that the abortion debate is closed, they are disturbed to discover that we have begun without them. They are particularly obsessed with Oosterhoff, who drives them insane because he is a young and successful social conservative who made history by becoming Ontario’s youngest MPP, making many of them feel incredibly insecure and unaccomplished. That, at least, is the kindest theory I have on why they spend so much time on social media weirdly speculating about his sex life or lack thereof. He has the rare power to trigger the libs merely by existing.
After the rally, the March organizers hosted a series of pro-life workshops at St. Michael’s College (one of which I spoke at with my colleague Devorah), and dozens of the protestors clumped around the doors, shrieking and howling at the pro-lifers as they headed in for lunch and seminars. The police enforced a narrow corridor for us to walk through to access the door while the crowd screamed Shame! Shame! Shame! like a flock of enraged seagulls. This led to several poignant moments, such as a bearded Indian fellow shouting at a group of young women that they should be ashamed of themselves, fully grown adults yelling at small children as they hunched their way through the gauntlet, and a young man howling “My body! My choice!” through a megaphone to the crowd. It is nearly impossible to caricature these people: One attendee noted that if their goal was to give children a horrible impression of pro-choice people and indicate to the public that they are so dangerous police need to be present to restrain them from hurting people, they did a bang-up job.
Despite the mob, well over 100 people attended the pro-life workshops to get training in how to reach out to their fellow Canadians on the abortion issue, and by the time the afternoon wrapped up they had dissipated, presumably tired out from yelling hoarsely at the closed doors and the long-suffering Toronto Police. For many attendees, coming face-to-face with Canada’s abortion activists was as much an education as the pro-life workshops, and neither will be forgotten very soon. I only hope they decide to come out again to pro-life marches across the country again next year, in order to give us all a good look at what their worldview is all about. They represented their movement accurately, and boy did they make us look good.