The mass protests that have emerged as a result of the leaking of a US Supreme Court opinion draft on Roe v. Wade led many we spoke with leading up to the 2022 Alberta March for Life to suspect that we should expect large crowds and a tumultuous day, with all the rhetoric and passion of the United States spilling over into Canadian pro-life politics.
In reality, however, this turned out to be one of the smaller Alberta March for Life events in recent memory, with only a few hundred pro-life marchers attending at the provincial legislature building and perhaps two dozen pro-abortion counter-protesters arriving just as the event began.
Despite the relatively small gathering, passions were high as the event got underway, with minor altercations including some pushing and shoving taking place. After security intervened and settled things down, the counter-protesters reverted to playing inappropriate and profanity-laden music (especially considering all of the young families that attend March for Life together), dancing and spouting pro-abortion cliches over their loudspeakers. The pro-life supporters simply did their best to carry on and disregard them, as a series of scheduled speakers took to the stage to address the crowd.
We attempted to speak with a few of the counter-protesters to get their side of the story, but we were generally greeted with rude gestures or with signs being shoved in our faces. A few people did manage to engage us in some semblance of conversations, but these instances were far and few between and usually short-lived.
We also tried to speak to NDP MLA Janis Irwin, who is a regular March for Life attendee and ardent pro-choice advocate, about her involvement with Bill-17 to include abortions as a basis for bereavement leave, alongside miscarriages and stillbirths — a move which, according to at least a few people we spoke with goes a long way to affirming the life and value of unborn humans… once you get over the initial shock of grouping miscarriages and abortions together.
Irwin politely declined the invitation for an interview.
We were able to interview MLAs Dan Williams and Joseph Schow about the day's events, in addition to chatting with Cameron Cote of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, Stephanie Fennelly of The Wilberforce Project and a very pregnant Alissa Golob from Right Now amidst other pro-life activists.
We also asked folks in attendance about why they attend March for Life, how they feel about the counter-protesters and what they believe to be the core message of this annual event.
Unlike prior years, which frequently saw thousands marching through downtown Edmonton in support of the unborn, due to scheduling issues this year's event was more of a ‘stand’ for life than a march, with the bulk of the day's content all taking place at the legislature. As the day was wrapping up, the group did go for a quick march of sorts around the legislature building to keep in line with the marching motif.
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