Organizers of this year's March for Life events were on Parliament Hill Wednesday accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of shutting down any form of discussion or debate on abortion.
Attendees of the annual rally, to be held Thursday, are coming to Ottawa after months of procedural wrangling and debate on the abortion issue and freedom of speech on Parliament Hill.
The annual anti-abortion events get underway today with a candlelight vigil at a human rights monument in a park not far from Parliament Hill, Thursday protesters will march through downtown Ottawa and hold a rally on the Hill and a youth conference will take place on Friday.
At a news conference on the Hill to kick off the events, organizers from the Campaign Life Coalition said the federal government is ignoring an issue that Canadians want to talk about.
"As thousands of pre-born children at various stages of development are killed every year in this country, our government continues to do everything in their power to avoid having an intellectual conversation on this fundamental human rights issue," said Matthew Wojciechowski.
This year's theme is "end female gendercide" and youth co-ordinator for Campaign Life Coalition Alissa Golob said sex-selective abortion is a serious problem in Canada.
"Yet our prime minister continues to stifle the outcry of the people he is supposed to govern by stifling any debate or discussion when the 'a word' is brought up," she said.
"This year's March for Life gives Canadians an outlet to have their voices heard at the steps of Parliament Hill when they are being silenced not only in some of their constituencies but by the government that prides itself on freedom of speech and human rights," Golob said.
MP thanks organizers in House
She called on Harper to publicly condem the practice of sex-selective abortion and said if he doesn't, people should assume he supports it.
The March for Life events were highlighted in the House of Commons Tuesday by Conservative MP Leon Benoit during his member's statement before question period.
"I am proud to stand here today to thank everyone involved in the pro-life movement for the work they do, and to congratulate them for the efforts they put forth to have this wonderful March For Life, which is such an important issue for all of us," he said.
How and when MPs make their member's statements and a motion related to abortion have caused recent controversy on Parliament Hill.
Conservative MP Mark Warawa was set to make a statement in the House of Commons in March, the day after a motion he proposed condemning sex-selective abortion was deemed by a House committee to be ineligible for a vote. He was told about 15 minutes before he was to stand in the House that he'd been taken off the list provided by his party whip's office to the Speaker.
That set off a controversy about MPs' freedom of speech and Warawa made a formal complaint to Speaker Andrew Scheer arguing that his rights and privileges had been breached. He had several Conservative MPs backing him, raising questions about rifts in the Conservative caucus. Benoit was one of the Tory MP's who said that his rights had also been taken away before by his own party.
Questions about caucus conflict were also raised in the fall when the House voted on another Conservative MP's motion that would have seen a committee investigate when life begins. Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth's motion was defeated but a number of Tories voted for it, straying from Harper's commitment to keep the abortion debate closed.
With the most recent motion from Warawa opposition MPs argued that it came too close to reopening the abortion debate and the NDP called on Harper to clamp down on his caucus members who propose motions and bills related to abortion.
The MP for Langley, B.C., could have appealed the committee's decision to block his motion but he eventually decided to drop the issue.
Woodworth, however, plans to introduce another motion in the House whenever he next has the opportunity to that would affirm a human's "equal worth and dignity." Woodworth told CBC News on Monday once it is agreed that a human being has a right to dignity and equality, there can be a public and parliamentary discussion on the definitions of "human being," "dignity" and "equality."
Warawa and Woodworth are among the MPs who are expected to attend Thursday's rally on the Hill.
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Jack Nicholson has said his pro-life stance stems from being born out of wedlock himself. His mother, a showgirl, became pregnant with him as a teenager and was encouraged to have an abortion but did not.
It would be no surprise to see any number of country stars on this list, but Kenny Chesney may have taken his pro-life stance an extra step. His 2003 single "There Goes My Life," about a teenager preparing to become a father, has been lauded as an anti-abortion, pro-fatherhood anthem.
Mel Gibson told Barbara Walters in 1990 that he is opposed to birth control and abortion, saying, "God is the only one who knows how many children we should have, and we should be ready to accept them. One can't decide for oneself who comes into this world and who doesn't. That decision doesn't belong to us."
The Emmy-winning "Everybody Loves Raymond" actress has long been known as an outspoken Republican. In 1998 she became the honorary co-chair of Feminists for Life, a pro-life organization that aims to steer women away from choosing abortion.
Martin Sheen, who portrayed Democratic president Jed Bartlet on "The West Wing," discussed his devout Catholic upbringing and conservative viewpoints on an Irish talk show in 2011. He specifically mentioned being pro-life, but that didn't stop him from <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/27/martin-sheen-romney-stupid-arrogant_n_2030597.html">telling HuffPo that Mitt Romney is "stupid" and "arrogant."</a>
Before becoming an actor, Ben Stein was a speechwriter for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He's remained a well-known political and economic commentator and in 2003 was honored at the Tenth Annual Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner, hosted by the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.
Kathy Ireland rose to fame in the 1980s as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, but, like her political beliefs, much of her work has since been comparatively conservative. In 2011, Ireland was the keynote speaker at the Council for Life's annual luncheon, where she professed her religious beliefs and detailed her journey to becoming a pro-life supporter.
A former atheist, Kirk Cameron famously became a born-again Christian at 17 while starring on "Growing Pains," which he then insisted had plots that were too inappropriate. He's since been an incredibly outspoken Republican, receiving intense backlash from the the Hollywood community in 2012 when he told Piers Morgan that homosexuality is "unnatural ... and ultimately destructive to foundations of civilization." He is currently a member of the evangelical Christian movement and has espoused anti-abortion ideology.
"I really don't believe in abortion," <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/justin-bieber-talks-sex-politics-music-and-puberty-in-new-rolling-stone-cover-story-20110216">Justin Bieber told Rolling Stone</a> in 2011. "It's like killing a baby." When asked about cases of rape, the pop star said, "Um. Well, I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don't know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven't been in that position, so I wouldn't be able to judge that."
Having portrayed Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," it seems only appropriate that Jim Caviezel has proclaimed himself to be a devout Catholic. The actor told Catholic Digest in 2009 that being pro-life is more important to him than his career.
Andrea Bocelli first made his pro-life stance public in 2010 when he recorded a video discussing his mother's decision not to have an abortion even though she was encouraged to after coming down with appendicitis while pregnant. “Of course, personally I do not share the idea of being able to interrupt life arbitrarily,” <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalmusic/8884646/Andrea-Bocelli-The-truth-about-my-friend-the-strong-willed-kind-and-intelligent-Silvio-Berlusconi.html">he told The Telegraph</a> in 2011. “But I cannot be the judge of those who decide in a different way. As much as I can, I show them an example and act as a role model, because I believe this is the only way.”