March for Life 2016

About 500 people attended the 17th annual March for Life held in Fredericton NB. The event included religious services, a rally in front of the Legislature, and a parade through downtown streets. “This was one of our best marches ever,” said NBRL Executive Director Peter Ryan. “The turnout, the speakers, the media coverage, the prayer events, the way disruption by our opponents was handled, the whole atmosphere, things all turned out very well.” The 2016 theme was “The truth that endures: the sanctity of ALL human life,” with a special focus on the threat posed by euthanasia and assisted suicide. Former lieutenant governor Graydon Nicholas, who has been outspoken in recent months on the latter issues, was the keynote speaker. “There’s no way you can sugar-coat suicide and euthanasia,” he said. “It’s deliberate death. We need to stand up for life, for the culture of life, as opposed to the culture of death.” Health minister Victor Boudreau addressed the crowd on how new federal legislation could affect New Brunswick. “We feel the legislation the federal government initially tabled was a reasonable approach. But we now need to wait and see what the legislation looks like once it is adopted, if it gets adopted.” He promised to “make sure we have other options available” such as good palliative care for the dying. Boudreau later told reporters if legislation passes in Ottawa, the province would not necessarily need its own legislation, but could make regulatory and policy changes.” Peter Ryan queried the province’s position on where any euthanasia might take place – would it include nursing homes, hospices and Catholic institutions? And how would conscience rights of doctors be protected? After the Mr. Boudreau’s remarks Ryan commented, “I still have the same questions.” Ten Conservative Members of the Legislative Assembly attended the rally. MLA Jody Carr expressed solidarity with those gathered, while colleague Glenn Savoie called for a legislative debate on the issue and evoked the old adage, “If you don’t’ stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” A small group of abortion rights protesters chanted slogans during part of the rally. City police and event marshals kept the situation very orderly. Interestingly, the protesters quieted and seemed to listen as two pro-life women – Andrea MacDonald and Martha Desmond - offered poignant testimonies of their struggles with unexpected pregnancy and the thought of abortion. Before the rally, a large crowd was on hand as Bishop Robert Harris of the Saint John Catholic diocese celebrated Mass at St. Dunstan’s Church along with ten priests. A concert of prayer was also held at Brunswick Street Baptist Church. An interdenominational event, the March for Life was co-sponsored by NB Right to Life, the Knight of Columbus of New Brunswick, and the NB Council of the Catholic Women’s League. After the parade, a social took place at St. Dunstan’s parish center. The event was covered by CBC, CTV and Global networks plus several other media outlets. “On the whole, the coverage was fair and objective,” Peter Ryan commented. “To their credit, the media did not get sidetracked on the sensationalism of the protesters that showed up.” Check out photos from the March for Life that was held on May 19, 2016!

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