OTTAWA – The youth coordinator of the pro-life rally on Parliament Hill that drew thousands of people Thursday says the movement is growing among young people and the next generation of voters will support any MP who speaks out against abortion.
But Alissa Golob, the 26-year-old coordinator of non-profit organization Campaign Life Coalition, says young pro-lifers have shunned Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his reticence to deal with the abortion issue.
Golob estimated some 25,000 people attended the March For Life event, a number she based on her group counting attendees as they came and went.
“It’s the most important issue of this day,” said Golob in an interview.
“Every single young person in Canada is a survivor of abortion.”
Golob said young people are disappointed in Harper, who has said he will not reopen the abortion debate.
“We do not support Stephen Harper whatsoever, especially in his attempts to stifle the debate,” she said.
“But we do support many in his caucus, so that does leave us in a difficult position.”
Hundreds of high school students attended the rally, arriving in buses paid for by the publicly-funded Catholic school boards.
Mardi de Kemp, spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board, confirmed the board does pay for buses to send students to the rally.
Although she couldn’t say how much money was spent, de Kemp estimated somewhere between 150 to 250 students attended Thursday’s event.
“We do have high school students who are given the opportunity to go to the March for Life, and the board does provide transportation,” she said.
De Kemp said it’s up to schools to make their own arrangements with bus companies and she did not have the specifics about how much it costs.
Some 19 Conservative MPs and Senators – which included Rod Bruinooge, Dean Del Mastro, and Stella Ambler – attended the rally on the steps of Parliament Hill Thursday afternoon, many of them reaching out to the younger generation to thank them for attending.
Among them was Langley MP Mark Warawa, whose attempt to give a statement in the House of Commons about sex-selective abortion was shut down by his own party, prompting a re-vamp of freedom of speech in Parliament.
His motion followed that of fellow Conservative Stephen Woodworth, whose proposal to study when life begins failed to pass in the Commons.
“You are beautiful,” Warawa told the crowd, who stood out in the sun holding signs such as “Abortion is killing Canada’s future.”
“It was supposed to rain, and this is the kind of rain that God brings down on us.”
Shortly after speaking at the rally, Warawa delivered a statement in the House about ending discrimination of women and girls through female “gendercide”- the systematic killing of females.
Joseph Marsilla, 18, who travelled with his classmates from St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic School in Richmond Hill, Ont. to attend the rally, said he wanted to be there because his mother thought about having an abortion when she was pregnant with him.
“If she would have had that abortion then I wouldn’t be talking to you today,” he said.
“The next generation is trying to show the value of human life.”
Fourteen-year-old Nicolette Vardon also travelled with her Catholic high school from Pickering, Ont.
She said she wished the government was listening to what young people had to say about ending abortion in Canada.
“They should be paying way more attention to it. It’s something a lot of people are passionate about,” she said.
Golob said there is “huge discontent” among young people that the abortion question has not been resolved in Canada.
And she doesn’t think the issue is going away.
“Public policy reflects public opinion…I think that more MPs are willing to speak up because they have more support from the people of Canada,” she said.
“It’s becoming more and more popular in our country.”